Cross-cultural perspectives from a former UP Intern

Our Malawian fellows had their first experience with snow last winter!

Last year, Molly McCormick (Left)  interned with UrbanPromise.  She shares about her experience and learning as she worked and lived with our fellows from Malawi, Africa....

 Growing up in a military family, I was traveling much of the world before I could read and write. Learning that the world has much to offer, I had grown up being around diverse groups of people; and at an early age I learned to value being around people who speak different languages, practice different religious beliefs, and eat different kinds of foods. Interning at Urban Promise Ministries in Camden, New Jersey, I have had the unique opportunity to not only learn from, but to live with two people from Malawi, Africa. Mwai and Vincent are natives of Malawi, the country in Africa known as the "warm heart of Africa." I was truly able to expand my knowledge about life in Malawi, learn about cultural traditions, and even taste some of the staple foods that Mwai and Vincent were accustomed to daily.
    Coming to America for a year long internship is completely courageous. If I were to put myself in the shoes of Mwai or Vincent, life would definitely have its struggles. Much of this year I thought more about my own journey and my own experiences; but too much avail, I discovered that it is important to learn about other people's culture, but more importantly it is imperative to put your feet into someone else's shoes, the only way to fully grasp the complexities of their every step.  Fitting into the American Culture, eating foods you are not used to, venturing on streets and sidewalks unfamiliar were common daily activities around Camden for Mwai and Vincent. Less thought goes into these such things for me because this, [America] is territory I have understood for years.
    Viewing life through the angle Mwai and Vincent walked everyday is something valuable like discovering a ruby never discovered. Why? Because now I see the worth and value of having conversations with those who are not from America, those who have never been to America, nor seen the things I have seen or experienced life quite like I have, knowing what to expect with the nuances of American Culture. Ask someone what their homeland is like, invest in someone because living in America is not the easiest thing to do if you have never been here. Relating to International people is not difficult if you put them first, and have a true desire to see what their life back at home is, what home looks like, what kinds of foods are found in their country and ask about the culture of their particular country. Another intern from Malawi, Willie, had great patience for my "ignorant questions" that I was often embarrassed to ask. "Where do you get your groceries from?" I asked, "We have Shop Rite, and 7-11" he replied. "Oh, Malawi has 7-11's??" I was shocked. You would be surprised and probably, like me, very intrigued about these countries in which our international friends reside. Many Americans have very jaded perspectives of African countries and only think of war, HIV/AIDS, and famine. Willie assured me Malawi is a beautiful place, and it is peaceful. He has not witnessed war in his country.
     What a challenge to come willing to serve a God who may not share all the details of his plan with us, yet asks us to willingly follow. To me, Mwai, Vincent, and Willie have a faith I rarely see, but that I strongly admire. These three individuals were constantly uncomfortable in a community that I rarely struggled to fit into. God called them to come, and they came. God called them to learn and they are now doing. God asks us all to have faith, and to follow him, and when I put my feet into the shoes of Vincent, Mwai or Willie I start to see the utmost faith and commitment they have to putting their concerns on the back-burner for the sake of the children and people of Malawi, and for the Glory of God.
Blessed are the feet that bring good news, and blessed are those who love, and sacrifice for others.