In these two chapters, Becky writes extensively about culture, in a country that’s about as far removed from her home as possible (Ethiopia) and two which are much closer to home (Australia and New Zealand).
First, let’s talk about “culture shock”. Have you ever been to a place where you just felt totally out of your element? It doesn’t have to be geographic but could be a new school, job, or team. What was your experience like? Did you have an initial negative reaction? Did that change over time? Did anyone have an experience where it didn’t change and you left?
In Aus/NZ, Becky writes about two distinctly different cultures. First, in her altitude camp in Australia, she experiences what can only be described as a relatively hostile level of competition (so starkly contrasted from her time in Ethiopia, especially, where runners were so welcoming and friendly). Later, in New Zealand, she finds a more inclusive culture where she’s accepted and encouraged. What amount of competition is valuable in a group environment? How do we balance the benefit of pushing each other with the interpersonal strain of a competitive group? Is there ever a place for that amount of competition? Is there a situation in which any competition is counter-productive?