Ally’s #44: “Foreign to Familiar” by Sarah Lanier

I wish I had read this book back when I was 19, traveling internationally for the first time. It also would’ve been incredibly helpful for me to have on the plane before I spent two months last summer in Papua New Guinea. It offers a great framework for understanding the differences between cultures on a number of important levels:

  • Hot vs Cold Climate Cultures
  • Relationship vs Task Orientation
  • Direct vs Indirect Communication
  • Individualism vs Group Identity
  • Inclusion vs Privacy
  • Different Concepts of Hospitality
  • High-Context vs Low-Context Cultures
  • Different Concepts of Time and Planning

The author, Sarah Lanier, is a seasoned traveler, having lived overseas on and off since the age of nine. She is conversant in five languages and travels internationally on behalf of an interdenominational Christian organization as a consultant and lecturer on culture, leadership, and team dynamics. In her book, the author includes clear, simple examples from her own experiences in cross-cultural communication.

The book is brief and left me wanting more, but it’s a great jumping off point. I will definitely be taking it along with me on future, long-term, international trips.

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