Thursday, April 30, 2009

Stories from Kuwait - Culture Shock

Written December 17, 2007
When I was in Kuwait from 2004 to 2005, I experienced so many situations in which I was the victim of culture shock. While I was at Camp Arifjan, they were in the process of expanding the camp which included new buildings to replace the tents that Soldiers were currently living in. We were moved to one of the first buildings completed so we watched as the others were built around us.

The construction workers were men from surrounding third world countries referred to as TCN (third country nationals). They would be working continuously even as the weather reached the 130s. They didn’t look anything like the construction workers I have seen in the states who stand around talking about what to do next. Sometimes they would come over to our building and ask for water. The water came in large bottles that were probably about a liter. They were stacked on a pallet and placed outside of our building so that we could take them as we needed them. Of course most of us had small refrigerators inside the building that we put them in so we weren’t drinking hot water. Sometimes a couple of us would give them the cold water instead, and they completely thrilled.

One of my friends said that she would sometimes hand out sodas to them and they acted like you were handing them a $100 dollar bill. This made me feel so upset and angry. I didn’t understand why they were working for such small amounts of money and not provided with cold drinks or food. I also couldn’t understand how they were satisfied with this and I couldn’t imagine what they thought about any of us.

This was a complete culture shock to me, as I realized that Americans take such small things for granted such as a can of soda. There is a lot that I learned from the experience which I will carry with me always. I learned from them to appreciate everything that I have today. They were so happy for just cold water or a coke, something that I take for granted almost every day.

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