Arak Donald (Nigeria) is the newest member of our residential community–due to visa problems, he had to miss the September Orientation and Intensives and was only able to join us for the Second Intensives in November. It’s been great having him around and learning much more about Nigeria and Arak’s life and experience an African Baptist perspective on things.
Here Arak is reflecting on the ‘culture shock’ he experienced by coming to Europe (and to such a strange place as IBTS!):
I have heard and read about “Culture Shock” in missions but have never experienced it until my arrival in Prague on 02/11/2011. It all started in the airport after coming out to the taxi park. I stood there for 45 minutes waiting for a Seminary’s car or bus with bold inscription like IBTS PRAGUE just as it is with famous Seminarys, Universities and Colleges in Nigeria. My attempts to ask passers-by, including the Police, were fruitless because they didn’t understand English. Gazing at the blue sky, I suddenly realised there was no single black person around. I quietly but audibly asked myself, Yaro, me ya kawo ka irin wannan kasa (Man! What brought you to this kind of country?) I tried going back inside and there saw a young man displaying a card on which it said ‘IBTS’. With a deep relief I approached him and said, “I am the one” without waiting for any further introduction. He kindly helped me to the car. This young man was Zlatko Sebesta.
It was lunch time and I went to the dinning with the aim of washing my two hands and dipping my five fingers into the food to interact by eating and licking my fingers as usual. It turned out to be a different thing. I was given what I can best describe as “leaves and grass” with spoon, knife and fork. I was complaining within, what is this, is this food? I am in real trouble. I acted as if everything was ok and as if I was enjoying the meal—but I was not.
My first Sunday at IBTS was on 06/11/2011. I thought I will be comforted of my loneliness and shock through the mode of worship. The worship was blessed through the sermon, but afterwards I felt bad again, because it was my first time to attend worship without clapping, dancing, singing choruses, shouting amen and halleluiah to the glory of my God. That Sunday I had to ask myself a serious question, “Am I in the right place?” I called my friend who is in his final year of PhD study at Liverpool Hope University and complained to him. He laughed and laughed but then told me to relax: I will get used to it. He told me of his experience which was almost the same as mine. To God be the glory, the story is different today: I have made some major adjustments. With the loving, caring and family life in IBTS community, I can answer myself that what I considered leaves and grass is really balanced diet and truly, I am in the right place, with the right people, for the right purpose. I love IBTS.