Friday, November 11, 2016

Building Bridges Across Culture

Blog by Margaret Uche
The Inter-Community Novitiate (ICN) program has been such a valuable tool for us here at the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate. We have novices from at least six different countries. The ICN provides a place to come together and share our prayers, music, and foods. It also provides informational classes and workshops for us in order to prepare us for commitment to vowed religious life in service of God. It brings us together and allows us to understand and appreciate the charisms of each others congregation. It provides spiritual and social support for each novice as we journey to deepen our relationship with God.

We meet once a week and have different speakers on different topics like transitions, discernment, the
enneagram, communication skills, theological reflection, and psycho-spiritual development.

We recently spent two days learning about building bridges across culture. We learned that the world we were born is just one model of reality. Others cultures are not separate but manifestations of the human spirit. In the novitiate we are also forming our own cultural community. We are learning about how to live inter-culturally, how to be attentive to one another’s differences. We are really learning about cultural awareness inside and outside. We learned about the iceberg analogy of culture. On top of the iceberg which is small, contains what we see. The inside of the iceberg contains what we do not see. Culture is similar in that it has different kinds of shapes in it. Externally, we see little but internally a lot is hidden. So we go down into the internal to see. 

I learned that when in a new culture, one is not to make any changes right away. Watch and listen to see what is going on. Being open to learn and know one another. Culture of Religious life is gift of grace and choice to be vulnerable and share the gift of our experiences. I learned that I do not grow in my comfort zone, but only when I am stretched, witness to people, discover others qualities, make new friends, and learn new things.

The Inter-Community Novitiate provides us the opportunity to come together, support one another, learn from one another, and share our gifts which is God’s desire for all of us, while we deepen our relationship with God and others.


  1. Many thanks, Margaret, for your wonderful article. As we begin our Study Group year here in Watertown, MA your summary is very timely. Also, we are praying that our new President will take to heart your wonderful advice: "I learned that when in a new culture, one is not to make any changes right away. Watch and listen to see what is going on. Being open to learn and know one another." Blessings and much love to all of you!

  2. Thank you for sharing this wonderful journey you all are on. May it continue to bring you to a deeper awareness of the gift that we are for each other. Peace!

  3. You may be proud of the ICN, but I am proud of you and our other OPPEACE women in formation. You are together a marvelous example of intercultural living.