Category Archives: Culture
I’ve written a lot about my experiences in Korea. I continue to be inspired by the beautiful people I’ve met in the Land of the Morning Calm, particularly at my university. There are students, faculty, and staff who have demonstrated their kindness over and over again. The students are a constant source of inspiration.
I came to Korea fully aware that would be cultural differences. By some standards, the work environment is conservative. I knew I’d have to adjust. Still, there is one thing that annoys me. Sometimes male administrators need to communicate something to me, or they need information from me. Instead of talking to me directly, they contact my husband. Sometimes decisions are made about me without my input.
I’m the type of person who values direct communication. Before I married my husband, I spent many years as the head of my household and a single mom. Professionally, I served as an administrator in a male-dominated, competitive field. By the time I was 20, I was all too experienced in handling gender challenges and miscommunication.
Once a graduate student and a staff member decided that an announcement needed to be made to my class. However, they didn’t talk with me first. They showed up in my class to make the announcement. It was all in Korean, and I had no idea what was being said. I learned it wasn’t. The graduate student, I would learn, had an attack of self-importance. He gave my students the impression that he had a lot of influence over me. The presence of the staff member gave the impression that the announcement was official business.
The next day, I spoke with both men behind closed doors. I told them calmly, yet candidly that their actions were unacceptable. The men apologized. No one ever tried that stunt again. I went back to being my sweet, adorable self.
At the end of the day, it’s all about respect. Today I can look back and laugh about experiences like the one I just described. It’s all in a day’s work. 😉
Note from Deb: Our family is blessed with a gifted poet, my daughter Winnie. She’s a young adult, but she writes about issues that evoke strong emotion and wisdom beyond her years.
Read the entire poem at thewirehangerbywinnie.com.
Scared to fall
Your smile terrifies me
It has too much control
Over my heart
I could tell from the start
The way your teeth glistened and your dimples formed
Just gave me a feeling of warmth
I loved the feeling
Yet I hate it
Because of him
In my past
They wooed me
They gained my heart
Then tore it apart
First one took away my trust
He just used it to fulfill his lust
Second one took away my strength
My mind became weak
My opinions turned very bleak
Third one struck my soul
Just when I thought the third was a charm
I didn’t see just how much he could harm
My love for him
I try not to let these thieves of my past effect my now and future
But you look at me with that same smile
View original post 72 more words
When I’m not teaching English at a Korean school of theology, I provide support for our university’s English ministry. My husband preaches each Sunday at the university church and teaches full-time during the week.
My husband and I have only been married for a few years. I would never have predicted that I would become a preacher’s wife. My husband was a retired pastor when I married him, but he was still active in the church’s small groups ministry, and I assisted him.
Shortly after we were married, I began to wonder how a pastor’s wife should dress. I tend not to go with fashion trends, preferring classic looks. Before I married my husband, I was accustomed to wearing casual clothes to church. But on occasion, when I was in the mood, I’d wear a dress and heels. I sought some advice from my husband on what to wear. I added that I hoped that I wouldn’t have to appear dowdy.
My husband was amused at my question. He assured me that I didn’t have to dress up for church and that he never wanted me to look dowdy. He also told me that in California, casual is the norm, even at our nearby Presbyterian church. Once my husband reassured me, breathed a sigh of relief. I was happy to wear comfortable dresses and slacks, and blended in well at the contemporary service.
A couple of days ago, my mind turned to church and fashion again when I learned that my son, Ishmael Sistrunk, was publishing a new blog. His site, Quest Alpha, will explore three topics: God, sports, and technology.
Ishmael’s first blog post is titled Faith vs Fashion: Should church have a dress code? He thoroughly explores the topic, citing varying views and scripture.
Reading the post prompted me to think about our university church. Many who attend, particularly Korean students, wear casual clothes. Meanwhile, students from Africa and other Asian countries often come dressed in a suit and tie. The pastors also wear business attire.
Students who come dressed in suit and tie say they dress this way to honor God. I “get” that. I was raised the same way. I was in my 30s before I realized that God cared more about my relationship with Him, and less about what I wore on Sunday morning. That said, I also know the importance of understanding the culture of your church.
I still recall one Sunday morning years ago, when I woke up, and decided I was too tired to go to church. At the last minute, I decided that I should go. I was running late, so I grabbed the first thing I could find — sweatpants, a sweater, and sneakers — all clean, of course.
I was glad I went to church that Sunday. No one cared that I wore sweatpants. The pastor preached a great sermon, and I went home spiritually filled.
I also remember the challenges of being a single mother. My children grew in leaps and bounds while I tried to keep our expenses within my budget. It was expensive to buy Sunday clothes and shoes for kids, only to have them outgrow the clothes in a couple of months. Fortunately, I found a come-as-you-are congregation that welcomed us and provided excellent bible-teaching to children and adults. It was in this church that my children developed their strong faith in God. They are now young adults who are active in church ministries.
It’s no surprise, then, that I was intrigued when I read Ishmael’s take on this topic. Faith vs Fashion: Should church have a dress code?, is a compelling read, and I think you’ll enjoy it.
By the way, feel free to share the customs of your own faith. Comments are always welcomed. I’m always interested in learning about other people’s cultures.