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:: Wednesday, July 02, 2003 ::

Reflections on A Year Ago

Throughout the day, whenever my mind has wandered, I've missed Latvia.

Actually, a year ago today, we were still at Judson College in Elgin, IL, receiving training for what we were going to do.

The trip was set up so that none of the participants knew what was going to happen next - in fact, we were given cryptic clues that we had to solve before we could do whatever the activity was.

Thus, the trip began with me driving to O'Hare International Airport. I received a call the night before (just as I was headed out to celebrate the "last night" with friends) to pick up four people (and all their gear) from the airport. I was to put all of this in my '89 Buick Century. Thankfully, one person's flight was horribly delayed, and I only had three other people to squeeze into the car.

But finding them was tricky. I thought I heard to pick them up at the Arrivals loop. They were waiting at Baggage Claim, in the terminal. All I knew was that they would have large, bright yellow duffel bags with "Xtreme Team" written on them, to match mine. Eventually I went inside and found them.

The most distinct memory of the drive to Elgin was when we pulled through the Toll Plaza west of the Des Plaines Oasis. The girl in the front seat screamed, "There's no lane lines!!! We're going to crash!!!" My cross-cultural experience had begun. Toll plazas are "normal" for people who drive in the Chicago area. Nobody worries about the lack of lane lines at toll plazas. I realized how much others might react negatively to what I thought was "normal."

"Normal" is a loaded term, especially in a cross-cultural setting. "Normal" is often "arbitrary." But since "normal" is also "commonly accepted," it makes sense. I often choose to challenge "normal." But I need "normal" just as much as the next guy.

:: Matt 7/02/2003 07:47:00 PM :: permalink :: ::
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