Pre-departure Orientation

At our pre-departure Orientation, we asked the team to answer a few questions so we could all facilitate a process of culture shock in an effective way
At our Pre-departure Orientation, we asked the team to answer a few questions so we could all process culture shock and/or discomfort in an effective way

Our questions:

1) What would you do if/when you encounter discomfort as part of culture shock?

2) What are some things your peers could do to ease your discomfort/shock?

3) What are five things you appreciate about today?


Jakie, Gage Park High School, Senior

1) Talk to local people if we are lost, more or less! Ask questions and get involved! Let him/her know I am uncomfortable. Change the subject?

2) If I am in doubt about something, perhaps my peers can clarify–they can help me feel safe in a new environment. My peers can help me relax when I am stressed.

3) I appreciate getting to experience new things with amazing people–much like visiting a new country for the first time. I also appreciate meeting Shais and Alina for the first time and seeing Zehra safe and in one piece! I appreciate getting to the hostel safe.

Shais, North Farmington High School, Junior

1) First being that I would tell Alina and soon enough, once I get close to Jakie and Mr. Beth (Barrett) I would tell them too. Also I would tell the person who is making it a discomfort area for me. When I´m uncomfortable, I get shy and won’t speak my mind.

2) When I notice one of the members like that, I will point that out and ask them and help them to make it more comfortable. Also I will identify discomfort when I see the situation others are in and if it is too difficult, I will help them out and finish their thoughts.

3) First, having a safe and direct flight to Chicago. Meeting Jakie and Mr. Beth (Mr. Barrett). Exploring the airport, then having a discussion with everyone after eating. I appreciate the Chinese food Mr. Beth (Mr. Barrett) got me. Mr. Bearit found out how to use the buses. Jakie was the only way we could possibly get anywhere, with her translating. I really loved meeting the family and seeing their school and their home. I truly appreciate them taking us out to eat, it was the best good I ate so far in Mexico (Chicken Nuggets and Fries!)

Alina, Wayne State University, Sophomore 

1) In my opinion discomfort, especially for travelers, should be a welcome feeling. Without it, we cannot distinguish between the experiences that were truly life-altering. Nonetheless, there are several ways to deal with discomfort. It could be just asking questions, using whatever knowledge you have to comprehend and learn from the situation, or just throwing yourself head first into a scenario assuming you have enough intellect to eventually figure out what’s going on. The key is to stay as much open minded as you can and understand that whatever is going on around you is totally okay, even if it may seem bizarre at first.

2) I feel as we spend more time with each other, we will eventually figure out what topics and things are sources of discomfort for one another. Until then, we should observe each others body language carefully and we should be okay. If we wanted, we could even make up hand gestures or come up with code words alerting others of our discomfort.

3) Though today was extremely hectic, I’m so glad to meet mr. Barrett and Jackie. They are wonderful people that laugh at my lame jokes and seem very sweet overall. Also, even though Shais annoys me I’m glad he came along. Gives me someone to pick on. 😛

Xian Barrett, Gage Park High School Teacher & Chicago Community Organizer

1. Smile at random people
2. Sing a song
3. Ask questions of others to learn about what is throwing me off
4. Have a one-on-one
5. Document/write to home about what’s going on


1. Sense aura/facial expressions
2. Say words of encouragement
3. Teach/learn about new surroundings
4. Do someone a favor
5. Share stories of home


1. My allies in the struggle
2. My parents ready to support on whatever
3. Student relationships new/old
4. The ability to close one’s eyes in one place & wake up in another
5. The labor of airport staff

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