And upon my return to the USA, when I attempted to sort through my experience, the best advice of “respect differences” and have an open mind” offered me very little guidance. I sadly concluded that there was something terribly wrong with me because I didn’t seem to know how to respect differences and, I seemed to have no control whatsoever on opening or closing my mind. I finally surrendered to my failure with other cultures.
And it was out of this despair and surrender that the culture bump was born. I had reluctantly decided to leave the field of education – in fact, I was mentally composing my letter of resignation in October of 1978, walking out of the Roy Cullen building on the University of Houston campus, under a gorgeous blue Houston sky when I had an epiphany. I suddenly intuitively knew that there was nothing wrong with the Algerians and even more importantly, there was nothing wrong with me – that I had simply had millions of culture bumps. And the image of two large bubbles gently bouncing off of one another appeared in my mind’s eye. Furthermore, I understood that those culture bumps were actually the key to my comprehending – not only the Algerians – but ESPECIALLY my own cultural being – and ultimately my own humanity.