Why hiking Bryce Canyon in Utah is like going to the doctor in Israel

Soon after we were married, my husband and I took a 2 month trip across the U.S.  One of the sites that most impressed me was the view of Bryce Canyon, a steep gorge valley, full of rocky jagged monoliths that made the valley into a complicated maze.    Mr. Bryce, the Mormon cattle herder for whom the canyon is named, is famous for saying, “Bryce Canyon, hell of a place to lose a cow!”

How is this connected to doctors in Israel?

Follow me for just one more turn.  The other day I was giving a lecture and I spoke on the cultural divide often felt between new immigrants from

Follow me for just one more turn.  The other day I was giving a lecture and I spoke on the cultural divide often felt between new immigrants from English speaking countries and native born Israelis.  As an example, I described a client who had come in to express unhappiness, to say the least, about his interaction with the kupah. He was so frustrated with what he felt was a lack of empathy and downright unfairness. I asked the client to clarify what he wanted: reimbursement and a new referral for services, or recognition from the management that they had made a mistake.  Without hesitation, he said “recognition”.  I replied, “The branch manager is not going to come out and say, I’m sorry.  We made a mistake. We shouldn’t have treated you that way.  It was unfair.”

I reiterated this during the lecture as an example of cultural difference.  At the end of the talk, an older woman gently raised her hand, and asked, “I know this might sound like a silly question, but why won’t the branch manager come out and say he was sorry, and that the administration made a mistake?”

That is the Bryce Canyon moment.

When we English speaking immigrants arrive at the doctor’s office, we enter the canyon.  We’re happy to be here after all, but how do we maneuver?  How do we get through? Find out what we need to know? Find our cow, for goodness sake?! We are navigating in the dark, expecting straight lines but instead, finding rock walls and caves.

Here, we must choose our battles.  We will not understand why the branch manager doesn’t come out to apologize, but do we have control over that? We have to ask ourselves, ‘what are the concrete items we can extract from the situation?’.

We have entered the cultural divide and we must act accordingly.

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