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Reading Storti (The Art of Crossing Cultures, 2001- the Art of Coming Home, 2003)

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007 @ 4:43 pm
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Posted in  Literature, Quotes, Reading

Today I have been reading those books by Storti which i have read before, but this time i was more ‘detecting’for interesting quotes that i could possibly use for my presentations. I am working on the review panel presentation and am still not entirely sure how to structure it. I have already prepared a few slides but I need to make a decision on the style of my presentation. The time limit is quite a strain, ho much to say and include in just 15 minutes that does enough justice to the topic.

The more I am working on it, the more clear i become. I shall be prepared for some challenge after all, as William wrote to me at an earlier email: “The panel like to find fault (you could like a good Islamic leave an inperfection since only God is perfect!)and if they ask the odd correction and a bit of a re-write don’t worry.”

Here are some good quotes from Storti’s books:

“Surely in the age of globalisation and cross-cultural training we all know better that the world is home to a great variety of people and cultures, many of them nothing al all like us.” (Storti, 2001 – the Art of Crossing Cultures)

ibid – becoming culturally effective does not mean becoming a local; it means trying to see the world the way the locals do and trying to imagine how they see you. If you can do that, you will have done all that is necessary to function effectively overseas.

Ibid. p. 111: a benefit of learning about another culture is that in the process we learn a great deal about our own. At home we are rarely prompted to reflect on our cultural selves; we are too busy manifesting our behaviour to examine it, and even if we were thus inclined, what would we use as our vantage point? Once we encounter another frame of reference, however, we begin to see what we could never see before

Ibid. p.115: The overseas experience profoundly transforms all who undergo it, whether they interact successfully with the local culture or not. Such is the impact of the experience, on so many levels –physical, intellectual, emotional – there is no possibility of a moderate, much less a neutral reaction. You either open yourself up to the experience and are greatly enriched by it, or you turn away – and are greatly diminished

Ibid. p. 113: While we can come to know and change our individual selves without leaving our own culture, w cannot come to know our cultural selves without the benefit of an equivalent vantage point. Thus it is that until we go abroad or otherwise spend time with foreigners, this cultural self lies beyond our awareness, directing and influencing our behaviour in ways we can only guess at. In going overseas and encountering local culture, we are able see our cultural personality in action

p. 112: Living abroad presents us with a unique opportunity of self-discovery, and thereby, for self-improvement

The born traveller –the man who is without prejudices, who sets out wanting to learn rather than to criticise, who is stimulated by oddity, who recognises that every man is his brother, however strange or ludicrous he may be in dress and appearance – has always been comparatively rare. (Hugh and Pauline Massingham – “the Englishman abroad”

T.S.Eliot (in Four Quartets):
We shall not cease from exploration,
And the end of our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time

“Journeys lead us not only outwards in space, but inwards as well. Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection” (Lawrence Durrell, 1957:15)

Familiarity blunts astonishment. Fishes do not marvel at water; they are too busy swimming in it. It is the same with us. We take our western civilisation for granted and find nothing intrinsically odd or incongruous in it. Before we can realise the strangeness of our surroundings, we must deliberately stop and think. (Aldous Huxley, Jesting Pilate)

Whenever he was en route from one place to another, he was able to look at his life with a little more objectivity than usual. It was often on trips that he thought most clearly, and made the decisions he could not reach when he was stationary (Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky)

I am often tired of myself and have a notion that by travel I can add to my personality and so change myself a little. I do not bring back from a journey the same self that I took (Somerset Maugham, the Gentleman in the Parlour)


The Phaeacian sailors deposited the sleeping Odysseus on the shore of Ithaca, his homeland, to reach which he had struggled for twenty years of unspeakable suffering. He stirred and woke from sleep in the land of his fathers, but he knew not his whereabouts. Ithaca showed to him an unaccustomed face; he did not recognise the pathways stretching into the distance, the quiet bays, the crags and precipices. He rose to his feet and stood staring at what was his own land, crying mournfully: “Alas! And now where on earth am I? What do I here myself?” (Homer-the Odyssey)

p.xxi: Re-entry is an experience to be reckoned with, but when the reckoning is done and the accounts are cleared, you are likely to find that the price you paid for your overseas sojourn was the bargain of a lifetime

“re-entry shock” or “reverse culture shock”

The meaning of home:
Most people use the word referring to a set of feeling and routines as much as to a particular place

This very realisation, that home is not really home, is at the core of the experience of re-entry

The essence of home could be reduced to the following 3 key elements:
1.familiar places
2. familiar people
3. routines and predictable patterns of interaction
All three make possible most of the feelings we associate with home: security, understanding, trust, safety, belonging

p. 11: it is because of routines that the mind can be confronted with the new and the unfamiliar ad not fall apart; the unconscious goes about its routines while the conscious attacks the problem on the new

home as a foreign country…stranger in your own land

p.16: While you may become accustomed to feeling out of place abroad, the strangeness of home is bound to be more alarming than the strangeness of overseas. You can accept that you are not going to fit in abroad in what is after all a foreign country, but the idea that you don’t fit in back home, where you are in all likelihood going to spend much, if not the rest of your life, is deeply disturbing.
If you don’t belong at home, then where do you belong?

p. 19: to re-enter, it turns out, is to be temporarily homeless

p. 186: there is also tremendous satisfaction and excitement in seeing one’s own culture with new eyes, from the perspective of the foreign country. Whether you like or dislike what you see is not nearly as important as the gift of this new critical awareness, the ability to step outside your normal frame of reference and examine your behaviour from a new vantage point. Many observers have noted that without such a vantage point, a place from which to observe, you can’t really see your behaviour-hence know yourself-at all.

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