Same Same but Different


Danielle Johnston graduated from L.V. Rogers in Nelson and was one of the guest chefs for last year’s supper club.   She loves learning and traveling and her latest adventure is working as an intern in a “Women for Change” project in Zambia. This post, Same Same but Different, is a great exploration of understanding communication patterns in a different culture. Students leaving home, moving into residence or new digs and starting new programs are all entering new cultures where it takes time to learn the unspoken patterns of communication and expectations.


Take a look at the gymnastics clip and  do your best to tune in to the needs and feelings of your new roomies and class-mates so you don’t miss the  cultural bar!  Communication misunderstandings are messy!


Luckily, Selkirk College does have a wonderful mediation program.  If you are having trouble sorting out roles, responsibilities or conflict with any interpersonal or group situations get a hold of Randy Janzen 250-365-1234 and he can put you in touch with a mediator who can help you understand each others’ perspectives and come up with an action plan for moving forward.  As Danielle states eloquently, a big part of being successful in any culture is observing the ways different groups of people operate – both verbally and nonverbally – – – and then being willing to listen carefully and learn from your mistakes.


Anyone who has travelled through South East Asia has heard the ubiquitous phrase ‘same same but different’. It will be yelled after you in markets, used to describe you and friend, given as an explanation when you get a dish you’re sure you didn’t order.  As I stop and think about my first six weeks in Zambia, same same but different seems like the perfect way to summarize my time here.

At first glance, my life seems the same. I live in your standard three bedroom house- rent is expensive so four of us share the space. However, we do have electricity and running water- it’s even heated. On a weekday, I wake up at 6:30 am and have a 45-minute commute on via minibus to work- I always try to take a book. I spent the day working on my computer making spreadsheets, sending e-mails and writing proposals. Once…

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