Remember the Disney movie Tarzan? I have fun memories of watching that countless times with my brother and friends, loudly singing along to “Trashin’ the Camp” and dancing around like gorillas ourselves.
Ever since I learned what a TCK was, I’ve always thought that movie is a great way to learn about discovering a new culture. Here are three lessons of cultural adaptation I think we can learn from Tarzan…
1. When entering a new culture, observe. In the movie, Tarzan observes the newcomers and mimics their actions. He doesn’t attempt to show them his culture until he gets to know them – instead, he observes what they have to offer first and learns from them. I think that’s a great attitude to have when visiting a new place. It’s important to observe and learn before pushing our own culture on others.
2. Consider a new culture different, not wrong. Both Jane and Tarzan approach each other’s cultures from a point of curiosity. If I remember correctly, Jane might have been hesitant at first but once they both begin to observe and learn from each other they realize their cultures are simple different, not wacky or wrong. Of course, from a spiritual standpoint no culture is “right” but it’s important to not rebuke a culture for its ways outside of the moral realm.
3. Accept your first culture and your adopted culture. Tarzan is human but was raised in the jungle world or culture, making him a TCK. It’s evident he is more comfortable in his adopted jungle culture but once he learns of his true past he attempts to return to it. But instead he finds that he cannot and ultimately he and Jane remain together in the jungle. He accepts both cultures and does not deem one or the other better or worse. As TCKs, we’re caught between worlds and we can appreciate both of our cultures which ultimately created our own special third culture while we wait for our true home in Heaven.
So next time you enter a new culture, think of Tarzan!