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Don't Touch My Bacon: Eating, Drinking, and Dressing Overseas



The American teacher stood in the staff lounge with a cup of yellow broth. Look at this, he laughed. It looks just like beer!
A Tanzanian staff member just stared at him. Do you drink beer? she solemnly asked.
He paused for a moment. Yes, he said. I do sometimes.
That was the end of the relationship. From that moment on, she wouldn’t make eye contact with him. Because for many Christian denominations in Tanzania, drinking alcohol is not compatible with Christianity.
When we move overseas, we give up a lot. Christmas at Grandma’s, Girl Scout Cookies, garbage disposals, 24-hour stores, our own language, feeling competent.
So we should be able to hold onto some of what’s important, comfortable, and familiar to us, right?
Sometimes we sure would like to think so.
I should be able to wear what I want in my new culture, because clothes express my unique identity. So if I look cute in bikinis, then I’m going to wear my bikini. If I am comfortable in shorts, I’m going to wear shorts. I’m not comfortable in long skirts or head coverings. And my tattoo is an expression of who I am, so why would I want to cover it up?
I should be able to eat what I want to eat, because asking me to give up pork or eat only vegetarian–well, that’s asking too much. I should be able to drink alcohol, because it’s not a sin, and it’s something I enjoy.
You might take away Starbucks and Target, but don’t touch my bacon.
For those of us from western cultures, we might be nodding in agreement. Of course. We’re used to a culture where self-expression reigns supreme. Conformity is viewed with disdain. Even our churches are pushing the boundaries of what was considered taboo or morally unacceptable. We aren’t legalists, right?
So when our host culture conflicts with our forms of comfort or self-expression, who wins?
Go here to read the rest. 

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