Pre-Service Perspectives


Before working in another culture a person should be aware of both obvious and subtle differences which are assumed in what anthropologists call worldview.  A person's worldview is "the culturally structured assumptions, values, and commitments/allegiances underlying a people's perception of reality and their responses to those perceptions" (C. Kraft, Anthropology, 1996 p. 52). One's worldview is like the part of an iceberg which is under the surface.

Worldview supports all of the cultural forms--including behavior, language, relationships, perception patterns and so on.

From another perspective it may be compared to the operating system of a computer.... 

While the operating system is not seen, it controls all of the programs which may function on a computer.

Another analogy, one's worldview is like the skeleton of a person.  All of the parts of one's body are shaped around the skeleton.

A person's worldview will determine such categories as classification, person/group relations, how one views causation, time and space.

To communicate effectively when working in another culture with a different worldview requires adjustment in all of the areas mentioned above.  This adjustment often results in some stress known as "culture shock."  When a person who has been working within a different culture and has adjusted to working in that culture returns "home," a process of "re-adjustment" is normally required.  This "re-adjustment" "home" often results in some stress called "re-entry stress" or "reverse culture shock."

The following links provide a brief introduction to this set of concerns.


The U.S. State Department has provided sets of helpful perspectives as one is thinking about "going" or "coming" to/from a cross-cultural work setting: