When Cultures Collide

As you know being in the English congregation here in Bilbao is a bit different from French. One way is that the mix of cultures in our congregation are quite different from what we are used to. How?

Well in our congregation in California, we were all quite a mix of nationalities…about 17 different backgrounds to be exact. This was great as we were really exposed to so many cultures and had opportunities to learn a lot about the friends…and we ate well:) In our current hall, there are different cultures but not quite so diverse. Possibly only four or five that I know of…so far at least. Since we have been in French we of course know much about the cultures of ones who made up our congregation and territory but now we really have little knowledge of the cultures now in our hall and territory. Well we are eager to learn. We want to know the friends better and also know about those who make up the territory.

I recently started a study with a Nigerian woman who lives about 45 minutes away from me. There is a sister who usually comes into Bilbao from Durango, where this woman lives, and I asked if she would accompany me on the study. Of course she was happy to stay near her home and come. We actually spent most of the day together. She is also from Nigeria and when we worked together I learned alot!

First, the study: I learned that pretty much all the Nigerians here know each other. The woman we went to study with knew the sister and when a friend of the woman came over, she knew the sister too. It’s not because they live in the same town…no because the sister did not know that these two women lived in Durango at all! It’s cultural and I actually wasn’t very surprised since it is not unusual for those who’ve immigrated from certain countries to keep a close nit community; as we’ve seen with Haitians, Algerians and others back home.

I also learned that I need to adjust my ear. The woman’s friend who came to visit…I did not understand anything she said. It was like a foreign language…but she was apparently speaking English lol. This may take some time 🙂

Third: I learned about Nigerian food! Why? I was invited for lunch and helped prepare it. Some spices are still a secret to me but the food was good. I learned about small green eggplants that can be eaten raw and palm wine:) I also saw video of a traditional Nigerian wedding- a witness one and non-witness one. Very different from any wedding I’ve ever seen;)

I had a good time getting to know my sister and some cultural background information, which just makes me want to know more 🙂 It’s a nice time when cultures collide!


Antoine & Kanicia

We are serving where the need is great in southern Spain and are actively involved in the TESOL community. We enjoy helping people learn how to teach English and support themselves in another country.