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Cross Cultural Summer School (CCSS) Sydney, Australia (January 2007)

Agnes R. Samosir, fcJ, writes:

Sr. Agnes in group of participants.“Intercultural sensitivity is NOT natural.  Education and training in intercultural communication is an approach to changing our 'natural' behavior.”   (Milton J. Bennett)

It is true what Bennett says above.  Last January 5-26, 2007, Fransisca Arti Setiati (Sisca), fcJ, Maureen Merlo, fcJ and I attended Cross Cultural Summer School (CCSS) in Baulkham Hill, Sydney.

This course is an effort to change our “natural” habit in order to be more human.  This three-week workshop has sharpened our sensitivity in intercultural relationships.  It contained very good input, such as Theology of Mission, Inter-Religious Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation, Psychological Implications of Cultural Crossing, Human Rights from Cultural Perspectives, Spirituality for Mission, Cultural Patterns.  It facilitated enough reflective time and enriching sharing.  I was blessed to have such a wonderful group: 15 women and 10 men originally from India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Indonesia, Ireland, Kiribati, and Australia.

In 2008, the Society will send me with my two companions, Sisca and Marion Dooley, to Myanmar to establish a new community.  Sisca and I were blessed to attend this workshop.  It has enabled me to be more ready to be a missionary…to be ready to learn a new language, cultures and be ready to be like a baby.  One thing I want to keep in my mind: “I will never be an ‘insider’.”  This thought has challenged me to humbly accept that reality and my limitation.  Yes, there will always be a moment when I become a stranger although I know very well the language and cultures.  Therefore, as a missionary, the most important thing is not to save people but to be with people in their struggle, suffering, joy in daily, ordinary life.

Agnes, Sisca and Maureen (inset at right) with other participantsMaureen Merlo, fcJ, writes:

“Entering Someone Else’s Garden”

Marion Dooley, Agnes Samosir and Francisca Arti Setiati {Sisca} from the Province of Asia-Australia have been missioned to establish an FCJ community in Myanmar (Burma) towards the end of 2008.

Currently, Marion Dooley, as part of her long-term preparation for this mission, is studying for a Masters in Spirituality at Milltown Institute, Dublin.

From January 3rd-26th, Agnes and  Sisca together with  Maureen Merlo (who is also from the province of Asia-Australia and who has been missioned to Indonesia)  attended  the Cross Cultural Ministry Summer  School held at St Joseph’s Baulkham Hills, NSW.  This summer school has been developed as a collaborative venture of the Sisters of St Joseph and St Columban’s Mission Society and is designed for those who are called to live and minister in an unfamiliar cultural setting..

During the 3 weeks there was time to share our own stories of where we have been and where we are going and the challenges involved in entering another culture. An article written by Roger Schroeder SVD Entering Someone’s Garden and published in The Healing Circle: Essays in Cross-Cultural Mission, (Stephen Bevans, Eleanor Doidge, and Robert Schreiter, eds.) provided material for reflection and sharing.  Several  presenters shared  on topics such as Theology of Mission, Inter-Religious Dialogue, Psychological Implications of Cultural Crossing, Truth and Reconciliation, Spirituality for Mission.

There were 25 participants from different cultures so we were living in a cross–cultural community.   There was ample time for prayer, reflection, conversation, relaxation and of course laughter.

We are very grateful for this opportunity in preparation for our future ministry.

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