Antigua at dusk with Volcan Agua to the South
When looking at this picture, it is glaringly obvious that  a volcano is looming over Antigua. However, the meaning of "No thanks, I wouldn't like help" is something that is much less obvious. I learned this (and am still continuing to learn) the hard way: trial and error. I had plenty of interactions with Guatemalans that were full of cultural faux pas, many of which I am probably still completely unaware of. However, a recurring issue that I still do not completely have a grasp on was when to assist others and when not to. If this seems like a vague topic, it's because it is one. I never knew if it was appropriate to ask somebody if I could help them or if their "no" response actually meant no. This confusion was due to a combination of my desire to help, Guatemalans' passiveness, and the high context culture. Because Guatemalans will not jump to tell you when you've offended them, I never learned when it was and was not appropriate to help somebody with a particular task (ie helping my host mom set the table for dinner). Not only did this probably lead me to commit the error many more times, but I continue to be unsure about when it is and is not appropriate to help with tasks.

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    This blog contains excerpts from my journal that I kept while in Guatemala. It details some of my memorable experiences from the summer and tries to illustrate some of the culture shock that I experienced, along with detailing the Guatemalan culture from an outsider's perspective.


    December 2009
    July 2009
    June 2009


    Culture Shock
    Structural Violence

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