My Story: Culture Shock, Mayonnaise, and the Last Straw

BY CARL BUSER, RADIUS INTERNATIONAL ALUMNUS

That was the last straw. I’m done with this country. I’m ready to punch this guy in the face, I said to myself silently.

One more time, I spoke slowly–patiently, even–into the phone. “Sir, please, just make the sandwich like you always do. Except this time, just don’t put mayo on it, like I asked. It’s the same sandwich! It’s just that in the process, mayo won’t be added!”

“I am sorry sir, but we do not do custom orders. We do not accept returns or refunds either.”

I now attempted to yell in this new language. “I WILL THROW THIS SANDWICH THROUGH YOUR WINDOW. I DON’T CARE IF YOU WON’T TAKE IT BACK!”

He hung up.

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When the Rich from the West Don’t Know They’re Acting Like It

rich from west don't know they're acting like it

Today Go. Serve. Love is stoked to welcome Rachel Pieh Jones–a marathon runner, a camel rider, a cookbook author of Djiboutilicious, and a general all-out lover of Djibouti. This post originally appeared on her blog, Djibouti Jones.

From Rachel’s blog, Djibouti Jones: I have been wrestling with how to write about this for months. Starts and stops, lots of unfinished first sentences and barely coherent lists. Then I read this essay after the Rick Warren and race conversation flared up. When White People Don’t Know They Are Being White by Jody Louise on Between Worlds. She is humble yet forthright in the piece, a balance which is incredibly challenging to achieve around such a sensitive and potentially volatile topic. She spurred me on, inspired me, and clearly, informed the title of this post.

I’m giving you loads of links here that will lead to other links and I encourage you to take the time to read this stuff. I have been and don’t think I’ll ever be the same. It is hard, challenging, might make you angry. That’s okay, wrestle with it. Join me as I wrestle with it.

I am not surprised by, but continue to be disappointed in, the western attitude toward the developing world. It is an attitude I see often, though not exclusively, among Christians. It is an attitude of superiority, a god-complex. An attitude that communicates an underlying assumption, intentionally or not, that the rich westerner is the one with power and authority and agency. As this is communicated, of course the opposite is communicated as well. The local person is weak, a victim, and helpless. The rich westerner must charge in to fix things, build things, challenge the status quo.

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My Story: The Language of Shoe-Scuffing

Go. Serve. Love is stoked to welcome David Armstrong today. A handful of unexpected facts about Dave:

  • He has taken off in an airplane one more time than he has landed in an airplane.
  • His current favorite character in the Bible: Balaam’s donkey.
  • He could eat black beans and rice with hot corn tortillas every meal of his life.
  • He’s set foot in 15 countries.
  • He already has his ticket for 4 days straight of playing table games at “Geekway to the West” coming to St. Charles, MO on May 17th.
  • He can shoot a rubber band 50% further than anyone else.

It was after church in Bogota one Sunday, all of us standing around and talking in the way so many Latino cultures love. Outside, one of the young college aged guys–with a big ol’ grin, no less–scuffed my new pair of kicks. On purpose. Like he was doing me an awesome favor.

Growing up with brothers had long ago convinced me that when you scuff a friend’s shoes, you run. Fast.

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