Q&A about “Cultural Shock.”

Q & A with Ruth Blackburn

  1. Can you introduce yourself? What’s your name? Hometown? Major?

My name is Ruth Blackburn. I am a junior from Birmingham, Alabama. My major is Foods and Nutrition with an Art minor.

  1. When people mention Asia or Asian, what is your first thought?

I think of the cultural differences between Asia and America. My best friend went to China for 6 weeks and I think of the stories of squatty potties and riding bikes all around the cities. I once read that middle-aged men in Asia are at a very high risk of suicide because of pressure to succeed and do well in the workplace.

  1. What makes you most proud to be an American?

The kindness that people show to each other even when they are strangers and do not know each other.

  1. What do you think about “Culture Shock”?

I have never been affected by culture shock very much when I go to different countries. I think I am very easy going so the differences between countries do not shock me or bother me that much and it takes a lot of effort for me to pick out the differences and things that bother me or that I like better about one country.

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Samford student spends semester as missionary

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Photos courtesy of Alex Wolf

Samford senior graphic design major Alex Wolf said, “For people considering a semester studying abroad or doing missions abroad, there should be no considering. Just doing.”

Wolf spent January to June of 2013 as a missionary in Johannesburg, South Africa, with the International Mission Board. Her official title of storyteller meant she used her gifts and knowledge of video editing, design and publishing to “tell the stories of the Lord’s work among the people of South Africa.”

While her 9-to-5 office job kept her plenty busy, Wolf devoted all of her free time to the many ministry needs in urban Johannesburg. She met with prostitutes, worked in orphanages, led a bible study for teenage girls and played basketball with South African boys.

“I knew what my job would be like, but the ministry I did in the afternoons and on the weekends is what became so important to me. I just never thought I would love it as much as I did. I could have chosen to do the minimum, but I chose to do every single thing I could get my hands on. I couldn’t be happier that I chose that,” Wolf said.

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Wolf said that getting to Africa wasn’t easy, but now she can’t imagine her life had she not gone.

“Just weeks before I remember thinking, ‘Why in the world did I sign up to move to Africa with no one I know?’ I was so nervous, but when I got over there, I loved it. It’s hard, but once you fall into the pace of things, it’s hard to come home.”

Wolf said her transition back into life post-Africa has not always been easy. After living with people generationally effected by HIV, girls forced into prostitution and toddlers without parents, Wolf said it is hard knowing that those people are still there while she is here.

“[Being away from Johannesburg] is sometimes really hard to bear, but I’m learning that while I can’t be there right now, my prayers are absolutely more powerful than my presence.”

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For more on Wolf’s experience, visit her blog at http://delightedpeople.blogspot.com/.