Combining Cultures

by Grace Thuen

Culture holds so much in its definition. Customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of each nation, people, and social groups vary tremendously. What one culture sees to be right another culture can see as being severely offensive or just plain confusing. With a common desire to understand each other’s culture and values, there is certainly no clashing involved in cross-cultural immersion. 

There are boundless opportunities waiting for you here at Telunas. During your stay, you will be able to experience cross-cultural interactions through our immersion program. When you choose to visit a local island, you are able to learn and encounter the ways another part of the world experiences life, as well as share your own stories and culture. 

Immersion trips are so much more than your ordinary field trip. We take you straight from our resort to a local village in a nearby community. You’re able to have a hands-on, belly-full experience of Malayu culture–something you can’t get through a text book or even a museum. There are answers to all of your questions waiting on each island. Instead of asking the internet, why not ask a local? Instead of going to a culturally-themed restaurant, why not go to a villager’s kitchen? Instead of playing a game that replicates their culture, why not spend a day in their shoes and see their true, raw way of life? An immersion trip will not only benefit your group, but will impact the lives of locals who are just as intrigued by surrounding cultures, near and far, but are unable to reach them.

The Melayu people are beautiful and hospitable. When you arrive at a nearby island, friendly and curious faces will peep through the windows of their overwater-bungalow homes. You will be led through your day by Telunas guides who have experienced both your culture and theirs in depth, and are prepared to translate, answer questions, and aid in the immersion process. You will be able to get to know the village: their way of life, their food, and their stories. You’ll be able to share your own culture with them, inviting curious conversation around a cup of tea and delicious baked snacks made by your host. The Melayu people are generous and appreciative of your care and interest in their culture–they will want to know your story, your family, your home, your culture, your religion.  

On my most recent island immersion stay, I was walking around the village one morning and made eye contact with a school teacher during her 6th-grade class. She invited me in and I sat for 45 minutes observing the Melayu traditional school system, their focus, their behavior, their uniforms, their desire to learn and understand. The teacher spoke some English and we were able to share small yet significant information back and forth. She shared how they study a different subject each day. I shared where I was from as the kids watched in pure interest, clearly pleased to have a foreign visitor. As I was leaving, they bought me a juice from a stand down the street. “This is for you!” they said, as if I were an important guest. I was able to experience a level of their culture that isn’t included in a textbook or an article. They were impacted by my genuine interest in their small island. One day–even less than an hour–goes a long way in both the worlds of the host and guest as both are appreciative of a new experience and connection to an unfamiliar world. 

Lectures teach a lesson; cultural immersion leaves an impact. Textbooks help you prepare for a quiz; cultural immersion helps you prepare for life. 

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Grace Thuen is in her senior year earning her Bachelor’s degree in English with emphasis on Professional Writing at Grand Canyon University.  She is intrigued with culture, near and far and is passionate about sharing their culture.