Back Away from That Keyboard: These Books for Cross-Cultural Workers Should Remain Unwritten [—at A Life Overseas]

Seen any good best-of-the-year book lists lately?

I have, but this isn’t one of them.

Instead, I’ve created a much different kind of list. First, it is a collection of book titles—for cross-cultural workers—but there aren’t real books to go with the names. Second, these titles aren’t any kind of best, and probably shouldn’t even make it to the printing stage.

While compiling a list of made-up titles may not seem like much of an accomplishment, I do want to point out that, slowly but surely, I am moving up in the publishing world . . . sort of. Three years ago I created some clickbait headlines for expats that only lacked people to fill in their stories. Now I’ve come up with titles for whole books (see the progress?). This time, though, the stories don’t need to be filled in.

Solomon writes that “of making many books there is no end.” Let’s leave these books unmade:

Ethnocentrism, Ethnoshmentrism: Incontrovertible Proof that Your Customs Really Are the Best

How I Arrived in Country, Lost My Passport, Got Arrested, Wrestled a Crocodile, Built a Clinic, Organized a VBS . . . and Then Got Ready for My Second Day Abroad

This Airport’s Not My Home, I’m Just A-Passin’ Through: Wild and Wacky Tales from Gate C38

Go see the rest of my list at A Life Overseas. . . .

[photo: “Piles of old books,” by veronica_k, used under a Creative Commons license]

Snow, 2, 3, 4

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan ^

“It’s Snowtime in Dubai as Majid Al Futtaim Opens the Middle East’s First Cinema in the Snow” 

Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, has officially launched the region’s first cinema in the snow and the world’s only movie theatre in an indoor ski resort. Snow Cinema by VOX Cinemas, which is proudly supported by Dettol, allows guests to experience the magic of movies on the snow-laden slopes of Ski Dubai, which has been crowned the ‘World’s Best Indoor Ski Resort’ for five consecutive years.

. . . .

Adding to the unique and immersive experience, moviegoers will have cinema snacks including VOX Cinema’s much-loved popcorn and a signature hot chocolate from Mirzam Chocolate Makers delivered directly to their seat. Guests can also order from a mouth-watering menu, which features savoury options, including roasted baby potatoes with Raclette, hotdogs and burgers; as well as decadent desserts such as festive mince pies and gingerbread Dutch pancakes as well as hot beverages including an exclusive Mirzam Peppermint Hot Chocolate.

. . . .

All guests at Snow Cinema will receive rental clothing (jacket and pants), fleece gloves, socks, boots, beanie hat, blanket, wireless headphones and a dedicated locker.

Zawya, December 10, 2020

[photo: “|1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8|,” by Gerry Dincher, used under a Creative Commons license]

Flights of Fancy during Grounded Times

I was wandering around ebay the other day and found a piece of TWA fuselage for sale for the low-low price of $48,500 (including two seats!), and it reminded me of a post I’d written a while back about recreating the flying experience in the comfort of your own home. It’s titled Flying First Class minus That Pesky Flying Thing.

And that reminded me that a lot of people may be feeling earthbound, what with all the current flying restrictions. If that describes you, here’s a collection of some old posts that I hope can help you scratch your itch for flight. (And don’t worry, I’m not buying the chunk of plane I mentioned above. As of this writing it’s still there and it’s all yours.)

So with that said, buckle in and read on!

A Biscoff Cookie, an Inflight Magazine, and Some White Noise. . . Welcome Aboard

Inflight Magazines: My Virtual Seat-Back Pocket Runneth Over

The American Way, Way Up There

Speculoos Cookie Butter: A Little Bit of Air Travel in a Jar

Airport Chocolate: The Triangle and the Sphere

Airport Voices: Two Friends Who Help You Get Where You Want to Go

Remember when We Wore Our Sunday Best to the Airport and Had Manners to Match? Yeah, Me Neither

Here are two posts with clever safety videos I collected a few years ago. In the first post, you’ll see that the link to the clip featuring Deltalina is broken. To make up for that, I’ve included two more, more recent, Delta safety videos below. The first has an 80s theme, and the second is styled after video games. In both, if you watch closely, you’ll see Deltalina make an appearance. Watch for her signature finger wag.

Now That the Hobbit Air-Safety Video Has Gone Viral, Here’s a Look at the Prequels

Air Safety: The Musical, the Comedy, and the Reality Show

And finally, do you have miles in your airline wallet that you can’t use? Here are some options.

Help for Infrequent Fliers with Frequent-Flyer Miles

Give the Gift of Flight (and I’m not talking about those new Air Jordans)

[photo: “Airport,” by Jorge Díaz, used under a Creative Commons license]

Questions about Going, and the Answering Thereof [—at A Life Overseas]

You can learn a lot by asking questions. You can learn a lot by answering them, too.

Recently, a young couple came to my wife and me with a list of questions for us. They were trying to figure out how to respond to the stirrings they were feeling about ministry opportunities and wondering if they should consider serving cross-culturally someday.

I think our answers fell somewhat short of profound, but I hope they were helpful. What struck me, though, was how much their questions got me thinking. Good questions have a way of doing that. They’re beneficial for the ones asking and for the ones pondering the answers, as well.

So if you’re considering going overseas, here’s a list of questions you could ask those who’ve already gone. And if you’re one of those who’s already gone, here’s a list of questions to help you reflect on the process that got you there. I hope some of them make you say, “Hmmmm, good question. Let me think about that.” . . .

Read the list and finish the post at A Life Overseas.

[photo: “Which Way Is Home?” by Abby, used under a Creative Commons license]

When Cruise Ships Are Dismantled and the Waldorf Astoria is Remodeled, Vacations are Sold One Piece at a Time

Stuff for Sale Here

You’ve heard of an elephants’ graveyard. Recently, CNN’s Francesca Street wrote about a cruise-ships’ graveyard in Aliaga, Turkey. That’s one of the places where, it seems, that ocean liners go to die. It’s an eloquently written article, with rather dramatic photos to boot.

I’ve picked out a few lines from “Cruise Ships Torn Apart after Coronavirus Sell Off” for some “found poetry”:

On the beach,
once-gleaming vessels
lie dilapidated,
their innards exposed,
barely recognizable
from their seafaring glory days.

zombie cruise liners—
half impressive vessel,
and half skeleton and debris

“Armageddon
or something out of a science fiction movie”

“fascinating and heartbreaking”

And here’s a news spot from Reuters showing the deconstruction. The voiceover is informative, but I think the video would be better accompanied by some dramatic, haunting orchestral music.

Back to Street, she writes,

Once a cruise ship arrives at Aliaga, the vessel is torn apart. Everything inside must be removed, from the furniture to the bathrooms. Interior items may end up sold locally to business owners or collectors.

That would be some yard sale to attend.

But if you’re not heading to Turkey and a memento from a floating hotel is, therefore, out of reach, maybe you’d like to purchase something from a stationary hotel—a luxury hotel—from none other than Park Avenue’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

The internationally known five-star Waldorf Astoria was purchased in 2014 by the China-based Anbang Insurance Group for $1.95 billion and then closed in 2017 to undertake a $1 billion renovation. The result is the auctioning off of over 15,000 pieces of furniture, fixtures, and room decorations, with proceeds going towards renovating the properties of St. Bartholomew’s Church and Community House, next door.

Yes, the Silver City Galleria mall in Taunton, Massachusetts, where the items are on display, may be closer to you than Aliaga, but it still may be too far to travel. If that’s the case, then head over virtually to Kaminski Auctions to bid on nearly 1,000 items online.

Over the years, the Waldorf Astoria has provided residence for movie stars, US presidents, and foreign royalty, with their names gracing the suites in which they lived. That means you have the opportunity to own a bookcase from the Marilyn Monroe Suite, an electric fireplace from the Emir of Kuwait Suite, trash cans from the Elizabeth Taylor Suite, the door from the President Herbert Hoover Suite, and drapes from the Cole Porter Suite. The item garnering the highest bid so far? That would be the Saudi Arabian Suite’s baby grand piano. The Steinway and Sons Model M is currently at $22,000.

But if you’re interested, you’d better jump in. Live bidding starts October 17.

(Francesca Street, Cruise Ships Torn Apart after Coronavirus Sell Off, CNN, October 7, 2020; Carlie Porterfield, “Waldorf Astoria Will Auction Off Thousands of Hotel Furnishings,” Forbes, October 7, 2020)

[photo: “Stuff for Sale Here,” by David Hepburn, used under a Creative Commons license]

Goodnight Street Light (a bedtime story for urban TCKs) [—at A Life Overseas]

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Outside the big window

There was a buzzing street light

And a dripping AC

And a confident frog

Chirping up in a tree

And there were two little boys playing with toys

And cars driving by

And a jet in the sky

Continued at A Life Overseas . . .

Sing to the Lord, All the Earth

Sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
    proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous deeds among all peoples. (Psalm 96:1-3 NIV)

[photo: “Vedere i campi di lavanda,” by Adamo George, used under a Creative Commons license]

Imposter Syndrome and the Cross-cultural Worker [–at A Life Overseas]

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When I was a young elementary-school student, one of the highlights of my year was going to the store with a teacher-mandated list in hand to buy classroom supplies. Not only was there the possibilities inherent in blank tablets of paper, there was the just-oozing-with-creativity box of brand new Crayola Crayons. Not off-brand crayons, mind you, not last year’s crayons (with black nowhere to be found). No, I’m talking about the real deal, with sharp edges and their paper sleeves still crisply intact.

Every child is a budding Rembrandt when in possession of a new box of crayons (even if it’s not the coveted box of 120 with the built-in sharpener).

Those days are long gone for me. Now it’s more about digging into an old ice-cream bucket of crayons, many of them broken or missing their names. But, in spite of that, coloring is something I can still do.

For example, there was the time when we returned from the field and we were handed crayons and asked to draw a picture of what reentry looked like to us. My drawing was of me leading a group of other stick figures (my family) on an unfinished bridge over choppy water. One fellow returnee’s picture was of him pushing with much effort against an immovable stone wall. It was a great activity, as our pictures led to meaningful discussions about the transitions we were in.

Drawing can be good therapy, and cross-cultural workers aren’t the only ones who know that to be true.

In Inside Higher Ed, Irina Popescu writes about a drawing exercise that she gives to her college students on the first day of class. She asks them to draw a picture of their “imposter monster,” the ugly creature that tells them they don’t belong in college, that “lies in judgment,” reminding them that they’re not enough. When she first tried this, she was surprised at how seriously the students took the exercise, creating “careful representations of very real, frightening monsters.”

“Some monsters had three eyes,” she writes. “Others were family members whom students made into red-eyed ghosts. Others were ugly self-portraits of the students themselves.”

Imposter syndrome is alive and well in academe. It is alive and well among cross-cultural workers, too.

The rest of this post is at A Life Overseas. . . .

[photo: “crayons,” by Matt Wengerd, used under a Creative Commons license]