Guiding Principle #7
We embrace unique cultural circumstances which push participants to greater personal awareness and growth.
I was an IFYE from Nebraska to Jamaica in 1984. My IFYE experience is one that set me on a path of adventure and love for meeting people where they live and have had an opportunity to do so in many ways since. Some of my international travel has been work related, some personal, and some as a result of being an IFYE alum. I’m grateful for all of those opportunities!
Your personal comfort zone is a wonderful place! It is comfortable, it feels cozy and warm, it is ordered by routines you know, it feels safe, it is like a little bubble around you. However, Brian Tracy, motivational speaker and author says, “You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new”.
What is your physical reaction when you do something new or different for the first time? Do you get butterflies in your stomach? Do your palms sweat? Do you giggle out of nervousness?
|Host family in Arkhangai, Mongolia||
IFYE provides so many opportunities to try something new and expand the boundaries of your bubble.
You will be nervous the first time you meet your host family, but they will open their arms and welcome you into their home.
When you are immersed in a new culture you will certainly eat new foods, figure out how to communicate if you don’t speak the same language, dance to different music, you will challenge your beliefs and start to look at time, personal space, social norms and how families live in a new way. Go ahead, let your palms sweat and giggle freely!
You will become more confident as you adapt to a new set of routines. Imagine how excited you would be the first time you haggle successfully in the market and make the correct change!
You will learn new things and you will be able to do things you didn’t think you could. The magic, the growth, the excitement, begins when you step outside your comfort zone.
“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears” Nelson Mandela (South African activist and former president of South Africa)
Kim Reaman (Nebraska to Jamaica 1984)
(Above Left): Reading English stories to Mongolian children
(Above Right): An Ovoo is usually built of rocks and is found on mountain peaks and ridges. It is believed that every mountain has its own protector spirit and that spirit takes care of all the nature and living things around the mountain. Ritual offerings are made at the Ovoo to the mountain’s spirit for protection and good fortune.)
(Above Left): Horhog, a traditional Mongolian dish made with lamb, is slow cooked over coals in the ground and hot stones inside the pot. Once done, the hot stones are removed and given to all the people who are going to eat the horhog. The hot greasy stones are rolled in their palms and fingers for good health.
(Above Right): Horsehead Fiddle Youth Orchestra. The horsehead fiddle is one of the most important musical instruments of the Mongol people and is considered a symbol of the Mongolian nation. The Mongolians perceived their horses not only as a means of transport but also as a valuable treasure by carving the horse’s head on their musical instruments