No one calls a stick in the ground a “trellis.” Instead, a trellis is made of a “team” of sticks working together to form a structure that a plant can grow up. The trellis built for you here at Global Trellis involves a team of specialists because we believe that holistic growth involves multiple areas.
So far the rungs of this trellis involve: Tim Austin (life coach), Lauren Wells (TCK), Katie Brown (grief), and Jenilee Goodwin (life hacks), and Eric Mitchell (financial). Today you’ll meet another rung, and in honor of “Culture Month” here at Global Trellis, we waited to introduce you to Mark until this month! We can’t wait for you to meet Mark Hedinger of CultureBound.
Mark, welcome to Global Trellis. We are excited to have you join the team. Please share a bit about your or your family’s experience on the field.
My wife Karen and I, together with our four children, lived and worked in rural Mexico for about 10 years, followed by 2 years in one of Mexico’s beautiful cities. Our rural work was on a Bible school campus where Karen and I had the huge joy of preparing workers for the Mexican churches. What a pleasure it is for us to track with those students now, seeing them in all kinds of work across Mexico and in other nations.
In that city environment, I worked at a seminary that taught a deeper level of theological and church ministry leadership to its students. Many of those students also ended up serving in Mexico, and others ended up in harvest fields in other lands.
Meanwhile, in the city ministry, Karen (who is a teacher of the deaf by training) worked to help establish a ministry to the deaf in that city, learning to speak Mexican Sign Language in the process (which ends up being quite different from American Sign Language).
After all of that, we moved to Philadelphia where I served in home office leadership of our cross-cultural service agency, overseeing fields across Latin America.
Where are you now? What are you up to?
Teaching has always been my first love in ministry, and in many ways now I am in my dream job-–I get to teach cross-cultural workers, business people, local churches, and schools how to adapt to new cultures and how to be self-directed at learning new languages (even if there is a school or language teacher, it is the self-directed learner who does the best).
Both Karen and I are part of the teaching team at CultureBound, working from the central offices in Portland, Oregon. I also serve as Executive Director, which lets me multiply our teaching/training further and wider.
One of the best parts of this role is that we work with both US-based groups and with groups outside of the US. Being a part of training agencies, churches and schools out of North Africa, Latin America and Asia is a huge pleasure for us.
My main teaching is in cultural adjustment, and Karen focuses mostly on second language acquisition.
What draws you to helping people understand and grow in their culture knowledge and language acquisition?
I remember distinctly what it was like to arrive in Mexico with no training at all other than having read a book on Mexican history. About three years into our work there, I remember a conversation where I said, “I will never understand these people.” Those words burned into my mind, and I made up my mind to change that situation!
I started to find people and materials to help me develop cultural understanding and along the way I started to really understand the people I’d be sent to work with. What a joy it was to one day be told, “Will you join our Mexican leadership team? You really understand who we are.”
So to put it very clearly, I am drawn to this work for the sheer joy it gives me to help other people expand their worldview and learn to flex, so that they can enter new cultures and learn new languages.
Mark, thank you for helping all of us to think about and lean into culture as we seek to serve and grow. We look forward to your contributions!
Don’t miss the opportunities of this strange season. Culture Trainer Joann Pittman can help you continue learning about the culture you are called to serve. And as part of the culture challenge, join the live conversation between Rachel Pieh Jones and Amy Young. You can ask questions and win a copy of the Rachel’s book.