Of the many missionary trips I have taken to Mexico, one truly stood out. Each year for nearly 10 years, I traveled with our Rotary group to Mexico to help in an orphanage there that was started by a fellow Rotarian and run by an amazing group of nuns. Ongoing crisis situations faced us throughout this particular journey and each one brought heightened fear. To start with, we flew out of Detroit during horrendous weather in Michigan, which continued as we traveled towards Mexico. The ride was turbulent and there was apparent fear within the passengers. As the plane rocked and swayed prior to landing, we were all told to take a crash position. As I later reflected on the state of mind of the other passengers throughout the journey, I noticed the cultural differences in the various groups of people in the way they handled their potential impending doom. It was truly enlightening!
What I remember as I reflect back were the differences in how people handle fear at potential end of life. It was very culturally distinct in many ways, and I can still reflect upon the ways that groups of people reacted to the crisis situation, especially while on the plane during of our journey. Meyer tells of how people respond and react in certain situations with regards to business, leadership or even church. But what I saw was how people from different faith beliefs reacted with regards to fear!
I noticed that Christians, as an entity, prayed not only for themselves, but for everyone else on the plane as well. It was not a ‘family only situation,’ but a total embracement. It was powerful! I also saw that people of other cultures (especially people of Mexican and Chinese descent) were very focused on their families and groups of individuals within their own culture who were traveling together. I’m not sure if they felt ‘different’ or if they just naturally leaned inclusively within only their own culture, but the caretaking and prayers were focused internally within in their group. The atheists were most intriguing. It was either exclusively about them only and their own internal fears (no one else mattered) or they were reaching out for help from others to help them find a path to salvation. It was an enlightening adventure, that’s for sure.
To finish the story: although we landed safely, the story certainly didn’t stop there. After landing, we were greeted by a Mafia group, which had taken over the airport. As we sat and waited for the ‘hostage’ scenario to end, I felt grateful for the peace I held. We finally got to the orphanage of young girls (age 5-15), who had been trafficked prior to being taken into the orphanage, and we were then harassed by the local police force, as they were part of the trafficking ring. They wanted ‘their girls’ back! Yet, our Christian faith collectively helped us to feel surrounded by protection from our Heavenly Father. So, fear was truly a non-issue!
So….I digress! But the question is ~ did I enjoy Meyer’s book and believe it to be a worthwhile read? Yes, I did! I found it to be both engaging and informative. Meyer’s audience is really everyone and anyone, as we all cross different international boundaries at different times in our lives. This is true whether we travel or not. Meyer’s Eight Scales were also powerful. Meyer noted that when interacting with someone from another culture, try to watch more, listen more, and speak less, which is a common- sense statement, but also a good reminder in everyday life – both between different cultures and within our own! One of Meyer’s most powerful statements is: “If you go into every interaction assuming the culture doesn’t matter, your default mechanism will be to view others through your own cultural lens and to judge or misjudge them accordingly.” So true – and very enlightening!
 Meyer, Erin. The Culture Map: Decoding How People Think, Lead, and Get Things Done Across Cultures. New York: Public Affairs, 2014, 27.
 Ibid, 13.