Opening to the world, the beauty and artistry and history in all of its cultural diversity, continues to be a process for me. Unfathomable to recall that there was a time that I believed everyone thinks the same way and sees the world just like me, despite going to an international school growing up and attending a multi-national Bible College after high school. Finally, I woke up from my closed-minded and sleepy ignorance to the reality and necessity of communicating across cultures while working on a ship with Operation Mobilization.
I served as a watchkeeper, under a Finnish Chief Engineer who loved sports, alongside almost 200 other shipmates from more than 40 countries around the world. My boss, the Chief Engineer, hated me and he loved me (as I perceived it); his directness with negative feedback (ie. my utter cluelessness when it came to mopping the oily floor plates) was surprising and his wordless, approving smile showed me that he was proud of the service I was involved after the work day was done. We cannot run from our differences. In Christ we can stand with humble curiosity, deeply attentive to the ways of another person; there’s the expression of Love and interest for oneness spanning our acquired uniqueness in this culture of another Kingdom. On the ship there were many others, and the feelings were mutual for the most part, who loved me and hated me for reasons that I struggled to comprehend.
“When interacting with someone from another culture, try to watch more, listen more, and speak less. Listen before you speak and learn before you act.” 
How can I have an opinion on the correct way of communication in a multi-cultural setting after reading this book? Culture Map, by Erin Meyer, is helpful in further developing an awareness through story and mapping of our interactive cross-cultural peculiarities and similarities. I can understand clearer now that in the directive of Jesus to ‘love your neighbour’, knowing my neighbour deeply and how to love them well takes true care. Every day we are drawing closer to one another, regardless of the tension and striving of nations and politicians, people are coming together. We are mixing it seems and there’s grace to it; consensus is subliminal. As with the style of Vikings, there’s no obvious boss hovering and controlling this flow on a given platform. There’s softening between cultures, for some the softening is on the exterior and for other’s the hard core is relaxing.
There’s no other choice, if there’s a desire to be in relative harmony with one another but, with some care, to live out this blending, becoming culture we are in well. On the ship that I worked on for two years, we each brought all of our bags full of belongings with us and had space for our things in our own sleeping quarters. We met outside the doors to our rooms, in our workplaces, for meals, we crossed paths saying ‘hello’ in the hallways and we walked together on the streets of the cities, in the countries, in the cultures in which we were berthed. We learned, sometimes in a difficult way (directly or indirectly), to keep what is closest to us inside and to be discerning, to hold lightly and to be appreciative with regards to our cultural expression and communication.
Is there a single ideal culture, one that has it all figured out, one that all the rest can align with? Perhaps we are on our way there together. For now, praise God that there is diversity and that we can still be in the tension learning from one another, adapting in ways. In our becoming more aware of one another, opening to best approaches in cross-cultural communication on our teams, our blending families, schools and on this other planet that is perpetually at our fingertips (the internet) and, as we aim to live together well and respectfully, a global culture trail is being blazed.
Bahamian proverb: “To engage in conflict, one does not need to bring a knife that cuts, but a needle that sews.” 
When the ship visited Rosario, Argentina a number of people from our ship’s company had the opportunity to attend an Asado, a typical traditional Argentinian Bar-B-Que at which the entire cow is cooked in a large outdoor oven and eaten. I was offered some ‘extra-special’ pieces of the animal to eat and I received a round of applause and cheers for enjoying ‘what-it-was-I-just-don’t-know’. A wonderful experience, that followed with me to the next day and an extended conversation within my stomach wherein there seemed to be an agreement to disagree.
To disagree agreeably is a starting point for learning and deepening conversation in cross-cultural communication, a peaceful beginning toward understanding and possible eventual adaptation (whatever that may look like). Agreeing to disagree, was an encouragement offered at the outset of the orientation program before embarking into the ship ministry. There is peace in this posture, a giving and receiving of grace that can lead into a deeper care and offering of ‘what it is that makes us different and why these things matters so much to us’. Many conversations and conflicts were left as is in this peaceful, sentence-ending attitude of ‘agreeing to disagree’, in those years I worked onboard the Logos 2. So much so, that sometimes I still wonder if Dutch people simply don’t like me! (Just kidding).
 Meyer, Erin. The Culture Map (INTL ED). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.