Road of Trials (Paradoxes)
Even with a magical friend to serve as mentor, the hero must eventually go downhis or her own road of trials. These trials take the form of various paradoxes that,to truly deal with them, must be experienced, although mentors can help duringthis process. Paradoxes are the seemingly contradictory but equally true ideas thatemerge as one tries to mediate between two cultures. Osland discusses many dif-ferent paradoxes that the hero may face. I will brieﬂy review ﬁve of these.
1. Seeing as valid the general stereotype about the local culture, but also real-izing that many host-country nationals do not ﬁt that stereotype.
Experiencing an-other culture encourages one to see how certain communal tendencies createstereotypes that can help a person understand and deal with members of the newculture. However, at the same time that one gains this better understanding of thegeneral culture, one discovers more and more individuals who do not really ﬁt thestereotype, forcing one to be aware of individuals, rather than just cultural mem-bership.
2. Feeling at ease anywhere, but belonging nowhere.
The hero's journey mayhelp develop a person's ability to feel at home in a variety of places and situations,yet the person still might not ﬁt in. For example, I know a person who lived foralmost twenty years in Japan and, although he was well acculturated, he was neverreally accepted as Japanese. A certain feeling of marginality often exists even uponreturning home, as the hero and his community have both changed during the jour-ney.
3. Feeling caught between the contradictory demands of headquarters on onehand and the demands of the host-country nationals and the local situation on theother.
A person who is abroad on an organizational assignment will often ﬁnd thattheir home organization wants things done within a certain time period or informa-tion sought in a certain way, yet this timing or method of garnering informationmay be virtually impossible within the cultural context in which the person isworking. The person must act as a translator for both groups, trying to convey thepoint of view of the home ofﬁce to those in the new culture without losing theirtrust and explaining what can effectively be done in the new culture to the home