We See You

Sawubona is an isiZulu greeting that means “I SEE YOU”. The common response when someone greets you in this way is “Sikhona” which means “I AM HERE.” It is these two commitments that form the essence of intercultural work. We must first seek to truly see the OTHER’s unique viewpoint. In order to do that we must willing to be truly present, in our wholeness and vulnerability, with a willingness to be seen – and a willingness to change – to grow. This is the foundation of evolving genuinely intercultural ecosystems.

One of the greatest challenges for those whose culture is closely aligned with the historically dominant culture of any system is that we are like fish in water. We are held up and supported by the liquid that surrounds us, yet it is imperceptible to us, and the system rewards us for acting in accordance with the hidden or imperceptible rules of the system. We thus believe that we are right, our proof being the rewards we receive. Even more challenging is that we perceive others as having the same cultural perspective we hold – we believe they are just not as good at it as we are.
The reality for those whose culture is significantly different from the dominant culture is that we can see the patterns of the dominant culture, we have to in order to survive within the system. Yet we often experience being misunderstood, punished, and under-valued. Over time we can internalize the water in which we gasp, and undervalue/punish our selves for being who we are.

In order to move beyond this binary, static and even toxic relationship with EACH OTHER, we must be willing to sit TOGETHER in both our power and our vulnerability, in our view, and in understanding the view of the other – and we must remain together long enough for us to see how our pieces align to create a new system with the capacity to support and serve us all – one in which the power, resources, and benefits are distributed, not concentrated. This is the work of Inter-Cultural Unity-building.