Hot Climate and Cold Climate Cultures

World to the Wise Podcast

Have you ever been with someone from a different culture and wondered at -- or even been shocked by -- something they said or did? Have you yourself committed a cultural fauxpas because you didn't know any better? It happens to just about all of us at one time or another. Our guest this week, Sarah Lanier, talks about her book, Foreign to Familiar, in which she explains that many of our behaviors are consistent with the culture we live in, and specifically whether we live in a hot climate or cold climate culture. The thing is, it's not always as simple as how far north or south you live. And as we know, different cultures can coexist within one country, with the American North and South being an obvious example.

I think you'll find this interview illuminating -- you might even have some "Aha" moments as you are reminded of certain experiences. Understanding these concepts can go a long way toward more effective communication, leading to more fruitful relationships and sometimes even more successful business partnerships.

If you find the interview helpful, please share it by simply posting the URL of this page!

Here is a link to Ms. Lanier's book:

American Subcultures: the Navajo Nation

World to the Wise Podcast

Last week we began a special series on subcultures in the United States. There is so much to discover -- for Americans and non-Americans alike -- among the different people groups that make up the American patchwork, whether these are defined by geography, ethnicity, or perhaps interests and experiences.

This week we hear from Dale Tsosie, a husband, father, and grandfather from the Navajo Nation, the largest Native American reservation in the United States, covering an area of over 27,000 square miles. I was sobered by some of the things Dale shared from his heart, and I hope you learn as much from him as I did.

Join us next week for a look at another interesting American subculture, and if you have suggestions for this series, don't hesitate to email us at podcast@daviddurham.org.


American Subcultures: Indian-Americans

World to the Wise Podcast

If you’ve been listening for any length of time to this podcast, you know it has a decidedly international flavor, and unapologetically so! Today, however, I’m excited to announce a new series that comes closer to home — to my home, that is — the United States. The American experiment is comprised of dozens and dozens of ethnicities, we all know that. It is also a vast nation, each region with its own distinct flavor. But the effects of globalization are being felt even at home, as our media-driven culture takes us more and more toward homogeneity.  Is this is a good thing? Or should we work to preserve the things that distinguish each particular group. Today we begin a look into the different subcultures of the United States. A subculture, by definition, is “a group having social, economic, ethnic, or other traits distinctive enough to distinguish it from others within the same culture or society.” (dictionary.com) So we’re not just talking about ethnic or geographic subcultures — there are lots of other things, such as common interests and passions, that bring people together. You might be surprised by some of the subcultures we’ll visit.


Today, we begin this learning adventure with a glimpse into the Indian-American subculture. No, I don’t mean Native American, I mean Indian as in from India. (The US Census Bureau uses the term "Asian Indian" to distinguish this group from the indigenous peoples of the Americas, but we’re trying to encourage the move AWAY from calling Native Americans Indians.)

There are over 2 million Indian-born immigrants who now call the US home, and in 2014 they were the largest group to immigrate to the United States with over 147,000.

I’d like you to meet Pravin Philip Cherukara, a senior software engineer, and his wife, Fiona Dsouza Cherukara, a freelance bookkeeper. I sat down with them this week via Skype to hear their story and learn a little about the US through the eyes and experiences of an Indian couple. You'll hear them tell of their initial impressions of life in these United States, as well as debunk some common misconceptions about their homeland and the Indian people.

As always, your feedback is welcome. Just email us at podcast@daviddurham.org, including any suggestions YOU might have of a specific subculture in the United States that you think we should learn more about.

Let's Talk Turkey

World to the Wise Podcast

While much of the public attention in the US -- and other parts of the world, was focused this week on the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, we chose to shine a light on a completely different part of the world -- a land that from where I sit is too unknown by most of us, including yours truly.

One week ago today, there was a failed attempt to overthrow the government of President Erdogan, who was democratically elected in 2014 after serving 11 years a Prime Minister of Turkey. The aftermath has not been pretty. These events only illustrate more acutely the fact that Turkey is, in many ways, a divided country.

Göreme National Park
Hagia Sofia

But there's much more to Turkey than politics and religion, just like any country, and this week we'll explore some of the other fascinating aspects of this ancient land. Technical difficulties and a sensitive political climate in Turkey prevented us from airing the two interviews we did for this show, so I'm flying solo and attempting to adequately portray a country that has just moved up a few notches on my bucket list.


One of those interviewees, Duke Dillard, has a travel business in the heart of Turkey, Cappadocia, and you can find his website here.

For some fascinating and little known facts about Turkey, click here.

And I highly recommend this book, mentioned in this week's podcast:

Raising Children to be Bilingual

World to the Wise Podcast

Statistics show that about 43% of the world's population speaks at least two languages. Before you get even more intimidated, however, realize that much of this is by necessity, often because of geographic location or the ethnicity one is born into. In this episode, we sit down with two moms who are teaching their children a second language by choice, although not necessarily for all the same reasons. You'll meet Merry MacIvor Anderson, a Caucasian from Tennessee who speaks only Spanish with her two boys. And Daniela Ciliberti Nichols, an Italian married to an American, who is teaching her three children Italian in the midst of an English-speaking culture.

If you're a parent (or grandparent) interested in exposing your young children to another language, here are some articles I think you'll find helpful and encouraging:

Raising a Bilingual Child: The Top Five Myths

Raising Bilingual Children

Raising Bilingual Children: The First Five Steps to Success

How Your Child Can Benefit from Being Bilingual

As always, your feedback is greatly appreciated! Just leave a comment below or email me at podcast@daviddurham.org.

Summing Up the Summer

World to the Wise Podcast

In this episode, I give a brief wrap-up of the six-week discovery trip in Europe that my wife and I undertook in order to better understand some big issues. Some of these issues we are also dealing with here in the US; others are perhaps particular to Europe, but there is an interesting dynamic often at work -- what happens in Europe very often affects us here in the US and other parts of the world. It is my hope that what Becky and I saw and learned -- and the stories we relate -- will help you get a better handle not only on the refugee crisis in Europe but also inform your thinking on similar issues and challenges you face wherever you live. 

As always, your feedback is welcome. Just leave a comment here or email me at podcast@daviddurham.org.


Taking the Pulse of Paris

World to the Wise Podcast

Even though Becky and I had as one of our main purposes for this trip to Europe to observe and document the refugee crisis and its effect, along with other factors, on the European continent, the original prompt to make plans to be there were the November 13 attacks in Paris. So we made plans from the beginning to end our time in Europe in the City of Lights -- to take the pulse of this great city seven months after the attacks.

I sat down with an old friend, Marie Breton, who spoke candidly about life in Paris and her memories of the night of the attacks. Not something any of us would want to live through, but it's part of our current reality.


What do we do in the face of such atrocity? I share some of my own thoughts at the end of the interview.

Next week we do a wrap-up of this six-week European odyssey and we've learned from it.

Germany: Promised Land?

World to the Wise Podcast

Becky and I continue our European odyssey by following the "refugee trail" from Greece to Germany, where so many of those in Greece have loved ones waiting for them. Our first stop was Berlin, where we had a couple of important errands: delivering hand written notes from their loved ones still stranded in Athens. You can read about that in this blog post.

We also met a singer-songwriter from New Zealand who lives in Berlin named Mathew James White(pictured at right with girlfriend Christine). Mat was invited to do a songwriting seminar this past spring. To his surprise, all but two of the participants ended up being refugees. By the end of their time together with Mat, they had written a song to thank Germany for taking them in. You can read about that on Mat's Facebook page in his post dated June 1.


In this podcast episode, you'll meet our friends Andreas and Anya Krause (pictured left), whose story tells of friendships that came from reaching out to a handful of some of the hundreds of thousands of recent arrivals in their nation of Germany. They also share many insights about being on the receiving end of such a huge influx of displaced people. I hope you enjoy their compelling stories.

Next week we come to you from Paris, where we take the pulse of the City of Lights seven months after the November 13 attacks.

A Family Ruined for the Ordinary

World to the Wise Podcast

Meet my friend Dwane Thomas. Dwane and I have known each other for a number of years, and both live and work in the greater Nashville area. But this interview comes to you from Athens, Greece, where Dwane and his family, along with Becky and myself, have been volunteering with and observing some of the work going on among the many refugees stranded or waiting here in Greece. (You can hear more about that in my interview with the amazing Eleni Melirrytou.) But there's more about this remarkable family of seven. Before coming to Athens, they spent two months on the Greek island of Paros. I'll let Dwane tell you how he and his wife Gretchen came to lead their kids on that adventure, as well as how their contact with the refugees here in Athens has changed them. Dwane is also a language freak like yours truly, and we compare notes a little during this interview. He has some advice that you'll want to take to heart, especially if you're student or parent of a student.

At the end of the podcast we talk about the idea of going out into the streets of Athens and having fun reading signs and guessing what they mean. Recommended especially for word nerds!

Next week I'll be coming to you for the last time from Europe, where Becky and I have had our eyes opened, not only on the refugee situation but how it and other factors are changing the face of Europe. All blog posts and podcast episodes for the past several weeks deal with this subject in one way or another.

Now here's the video shot on the Athens streets by Jackson Thomas:


Resources mentioned in this episode:

An Oasis in Athens

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What a week it has been here in Athens. Last week I shared with you some of our observations of the city itself. That was before our work with the refugees began. In this week's episode we share some of their stories -- not only from the camps, but from some of the people reaching out to them here. In particular, one dynamo of a lady named Eleni Melirrytou, a pastor's wife from a small church in the heart of Athens. My wife and I have been tremendously impacted just watching this lady, and she herself has been changed, as you will hear, by her relationship with the dozens and dozens of refugees who have come through her doors just since January of this year.

After listening to her, you just might find yourself wanting to know more -- or maybe even join her and her team in Athens for a week, a month, or longer. If that's the case, you can email Eleni at emelirry@aol.com, or find her on Facebook.

Next week we'll be coming to you from Germany, considered the Promised Land by many of the refugees. Some already have family waiting for them there. We're curious to see what things look like on that end, and I hope you'll join us.

The Wise Traveler

World to the Wise Podcast

In this episode, brought to you from Athens, Greece, I ask the question: Is there a right and a wrong way to travel? I would say yes. There's not just one right way and one wrong way, however. Find out some of the characteristics of what I call the wise traveler. With the magnificent, world-shaping city of Athens as a backdrop, we explore what it means to travel wisely. If what Solomon said is true, wisdom is something to be sought after above all else. Wisdom is the ability to apply intelligence at the right time, in the right place, and in the right way. So what makes someone a wise traveler and not just an intelligent one? 

Take a listen, send your feedback, and share! Share your comments either here or on the Reviews section of your favorite podcast store, or email me at podcast@daviddurham.org. I'd love to hear your own insights and experiences!

Resources mentioned in this episode:


Postcard from Switzerland

(Note: see below for a correction of an error in this week's episode.)

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This episode comes to you from beautiful Switzerland, where I am currently doing a short series of concerts with my old friends and partners in crime, François and Christine Reymond. As I've mentioned earlier, the primary purpose of this trip to Europe, however, is to observe and document some of the enormous changes the European continent is going through, and I couldn't resist the urge to check into some of the developments in Switzerland along these lines. I was all the more interested since I've spent six years of my life in this country.

Here's a table of contents of this episode:

Chapter One - a crash course on Switzerland, just to make sure we're on the same page and that you're tracking with me

Chapter Two - walking the streets of Lausanne (where I lived in two different stints) with a good friend, who happens to be a policeman

Chapter Three - the changing face of Switzerland through the eyes of a high school vice principal

Chapter Four - an encounter with some refugees in Switzerland


Join us next week, when we'll be coming to you from Athens, Greece!

Correction: if you listened to the segment on my interview with Lionel the policeman, you heard me mention drug dealers on a Lausanne city square at night. I mistakenly understood Lionel to say they were Eritreans; they are instead of other African nationalities, but rarely Eritreans. I apologize for the error.

The Land of the Shire

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One of the most desirable travel destinations in the world, yet perhaps one of the least fulfilled, is New Zealand. It's understandable why most people only dream of going there -- it's a long way from just about anywhere except Australia, and it's not cheap. About a year and a half ago my wife and I were able to spend two fabulous weeks there, visiting our dear friends Neil and Jill White. Neil and Jill were our colleagues during our years in Amsterdam, and they had already come to visit us in Nashville years after we had parted ways. So it was our turn to visit them in their homeland, and I will tell you it was not easy to get back on that plane to come home. (Want to know how we were able to swing it? Travel hacking! Find out what that is in my interview with Chris Guillebeau.)


In this episode of the World to the Wise podcast, I have the pleasure of introducing you to this beautiful country as Neil and Jill give us an overview of the land, its people, and its culture.

It's worth mentioning that Neil and Jill are also Air BnB hosts, so if you happen to decide to make the journey, you MUST spend a few days at their place on the Bay of Plenty on the east coast of the North Island.

Next week I'll be coming to you from beautiful Switzerland, where I just arrived yesterday for a brief concert tour.


An Interview with Lee Camp

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During his doctoral research, a professor of Christian theology embarks on a journey which takes him places he never thought he would go and changes the way he thinks -- about his faith, his culture, and indeed the world. This is the story of Dr. Lee C. Camp, professor of theology and ethics at Lipscomb University in Nashville. This journey leads him to write a book, Who Is My Enemy? Questions American Christians Must Face about Islam -- and Themselves -- a bookwritten at no small personal cost. You'll hear how Lee dared to ask questions no one else was asking, and how some of the answers changed the course of his life. Lee is also the host of the popular Tokens Radio Showwhere the performing arts intersect with matters of faith.

A Doctor Duo in Burundi

World to the Wise Podcast

They could be making good money in the United States. Drs. Eric and Rachel McLaughlin have chosen instead to spend themselves not only on treating the poorest of the poor, but on training the next generation of doctors in a country that is called the hungriest nation on the planet by the World Hunger Index. At the time of this interview, there were only 300 doctors in a country of over 10 million inhabitants. That's one doctor for every 33, 333 people. By comparison, in the US there are 82 doctors for the same number of people.

The name of the hospital where they work, 2.5 hours' drive from the capital city, is Kibuye Hope Hospital, with the operative word being hope. You'll hear about some of the challenges Eric and Rachel face on a daily basis as they work to bring that hope to a desperately poor corner of the world, all while raising their three children.

Eric is also a songwriter, and has recently released an entire album of songs written since their arrival in Africa three years ago. You can find a link to Eric's music, available for FREE download, here, along with some of his reflections.

A Biracial Couple in the American South

World to the Wise Podcast

In spite of great strides in some respects over the last few years, race relations in the United States still have a ways to go. But what is it like to be in a biracial, black-white marriage in today’s American South? Is it any easier now than, say, 10 or 20 years ago? In some parts of the world, mixed marriages have been an accepted part of the cultural makeup for a long time. Not all cultures have the same background and therefore historical baggage. The American South has its share. This is not a new subject of conversation. Think of it more as taking a pulse. I sat down with my good friends Mike and Patricia Majett to hear their story.

As always, your comments are welcome. Are you in a biracial marriage? What has been your experience?

On Being a Polyglot

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polyglot [pol-ee-glot] (n). A person who speaks, writes, or reads a number of languages. If this podcast is about crossing cultural bridges, learning other languages has been a major vehicle that has helped me cross multiple bridges. Find out here why this is not something to boast about, but, like all gifts, is intended to serve and inspire others.


Be sure to comment! Either here or by email to podcast@daviddurham.org.

Coming next week: being a biracial couple in the American South.

Dave Dillard Interview

World to the Wise Podcast

My wife Becky and I have been very impacted by the plight of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have flooded into Europe in the past year, primarily from war torn countries such as Syria. Thousands of these men, women and children are currently stranded in Greece, their point of arrival in Europe. We have committed to volunteering in Greece this summer with a Nashville-based nonprofit called Servant Group International, whose executive director is Dave Dillard. Turn up your curiosity and listen to Dave's wisdom and experience. You'll also learn about the world's largest ethnic group without a home state.

Chris Guillebeau Interview

World to the Wise Podcast

Do you have a personal quest? Climbing a certain mountain, learning to play an instrument, reading a certain number of books? Author, entrepreneur and adventurer Chris Guillebeau does. Several years ago the idea came to him to visit every country on the planet. Find out whether he has accomplished his goal yet -- and some of the many life lessons he's learned along the way.

You'll also hear about Chris's latest book, Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do, where he challenges us to think outside the limits we have placed on ourselves.

Chris is engaging, fresh, personable, and a pleasure to know. I hope you enjoy hearing him.

Dr. Ming Wang Interview

World to the Wise Podcast

Imagine growing up in communist China in the oppressive days of the Cultural Revolution under Chairman Mao. Living conditions are poor, life is hard and largely devoid of color. Art and literature are banned, except for a handful of state-sanctioned books and plays that are little more than communist propaganda. Thousands upon thousands of people are deported to the most remote parts of the country and sentenced to a lifetime of hard labor and abject poverty, often for nothing more than being suspected of speaking against the Communist party. In these depressing years of the 1960's, there is a young boy who wants nothing more than to be a doctor like both of his parents -- even though they make little if any more than the subsistence level salary of a peasant. The obstacles that come between the boy and his dream are many; yet today he is a world- renowned expert in laser physics and lasik surgery.

I hope you enjoy the story of Dr. Ming Wang, and I recommend reading his book, From Darkness to Sight: A Journey from Hardship to Healing for some important perspective on China's not-too-distant past.