Eyes closed. Arms criss-crossing your chest. Now fall backwards and trust that the people behind you will ensure that you don’t slam into the floor.
Experiential learning has been around a while and I’ve done my fair share of facilitating everything from trust falls with youth on weekend retreats to pastors who were told to take a tin can and some bungee cord and figure out a way to put the “toxic waste” inside the safety zone to cross cultural enthusiasts who adopted pretend languages and strange greetings so that they could “know” what it was like to be in the majority/minority culture. Each time we would talk about what we just did, how we felt, and then of course what lessons we could learn from the few minutes or several hours we had invested in the “game.”
Yep, I’ve been there/done that when it comes to experiential learning. And now …
Every day of my life is a trust fall. From the moment I open the door to my bedroom — when I know that I will be flooded with words only a portion of which I will understand — and I start agreeing to doing things and going places without any real sense of what or where, I’m reminded that living in another culture is one unending experience of learning. Some days the risks are low — like realizing you’re definitely on the bus to San Miguel … just the wrong one and you’ll be walking a few extra miles you hadn’t planned on. And some days you just hope that what you thought were profoundly comforting things to say to the grieving mother who has just confided in you were indeed that and not some staccato stammering of stupidities.
So … what I do every day … is open the door. How I feel is … frequently confused. And what lessons am I learning? Well that one is easy. I take great comfort in the fact that I’m not alone — that surrounding me are strangers-turned-companions/friends who really are ready to catch me. And whether I understand every word they are saying or not, I trust that I’m going to be ok.