Multicultural Island Hot Pot
Mix of cultures? Island life? Hot pot dish? What?
Some people might see my social media posts and think what kind of lifestyle that is?! Maybe not a traditional one, maybe yes… In some sense, I often live in communities of people. In Western World we usually stick to immediate community of close family. In my island life it often includes unknown people and what’s more – from all over the world! Different sex, age, race, religion, beliefs, culture… Facing so many aspects in every day life! Living in the safe space of what we call Home we might not realize all psychology of multicultural interactions. I want to shortly tell you how I see it 🙂
First of all, I wanted to mention that living the Island Life is my choice for many reasons. Of course, I love tropics, everyday sunshine, crystal clear water, of course. All of this perfect postcard photos might seem like a dream! Not for everyone and not for everyday living though. There are always two sides of the coin. For example working at the resort, you might not realize there are hundreds of staff members involved in your guest experience! Literally two, three or maybe four hundred staff working to make it perfect holiday experience for you!
Most of these people are locals, which is great. Others come from all over the world. Away from their homes, families, friends, cities, customs, favorite foods and everything that’s well known to them. Just think about it, it’s already a big deal! Ok, so all of these people end up on one island. Australia is an island too, but let’s say an island you can walk around in 7 to 10 minutes. Official purpose is work, but… is it? Working here becomes your lifestyle. Money is one thing – often sent to families, shared with others in need or spent on daily pleasures – simply living day by day. Another thing is, what you actually do for job. You might put all your heart in it and work with passion or just do what needs to be done, nothing more, not really seeing it serving higher purpose.
Then, another factor comes into play. You arrived to this island. You do your work. Then what? All this free time is very interesting. You could say it’s boring – nothing to do, just rest. You could say it’s exciting – so many people and possibilities to use the time and place. I like to see my cup always half full – with lots of opportunities: water sports, team sports, individual sports, gym, recreational games, reading, writing, meditation, yoga, journalling, relaxing, chatting, playing games, singing, dancing, laughing, discussing, inspiring, learning and creating new things. List could be endless. Some of these activities are a great way to rest and recharge – having ‘me time’ – a couple of hours daily of time alone is very needed. What’s more, other activities improve cooperation skills, intercultural competence and teamwork, which betters the quality of living and working together with others around.
I know it from experience, island life tends to be slow and lazy at times. Maybe sunshine and warm air temperature slow us down, maybe there’s just nowhere to rush, no cars, no traffic, no pressure. These are beautiful aspects of secluded island! However, this means you have to keep yourself motivated to spark an action! Once you start it then it flows. You know what it is like… You feel too lazy to go to the gym, but once you put your sneakers and t shirt on, it’s fine and afterwards you feel great and proud you did good work! Same here. Intrinsic motivation is what must drive you to reach further, engage more. Internal reward and sense of exploration.
Anyways, in all this island life, all day every day, you are approached by people from different cultures. Sometimes we don’t realize how our habits, words, phrases, body language and communication vary from what others are used to. It all needs a little care to handle. Closed minded person would say: I’m not going to change anything, others can adopt or I don’t care. To be honest, these thoughts crossed my mind as well when somebody eyed me up and down with a grin on their face for wearing shorts rather than long pants. Hmm… I think in dealing with different cultures it’s important to have this intention of curiosity. Not approaching people with attitude of ‘what I know is the best and only way to do things’, but trying to stay open minded towards how others are as well. Trying to wear their shoes might shine new light on the perspective.
Soft skills like empathy, active listening, effective communication, acceptance, emotional intelligence, honest smile, good quality time are universal language, which connects people. In our core we are all the same, have the same emotions, needs and wants. We differ in the strategies to achieve love, comfort, safety, importance, achievement, fun…
Conflicts often rise up from misunderstanding, miscommunication and habitual behaviors. With honest interest in another person, their background and culture we might understand them better and try to make them feel comfortable enough to open up. It’s all a little more challenging than staying within your comfort zone, but so worth it to grow your skills and learn about yourself. Somebody said, the outside world reflects who we are inside… Often what’s hard for us and where we find resistance – that’s where the treasure is buried! Stopping and looking beneath the surface is where we face the shadow and turn it into our light.
To shortly sum up, multicultural living gets hard and challenging as many aspects of our lives. I love the challenge and how much I can learn from it about others and to grow myself. I always say travelling is fast paced school where we process many things in shorter time. I’m grateful for all teachers I come across and I will continue to learn from. With love to my island life and all! 🙂