Kendall Hunter is the author of Culture Smart! Switzerland. Her first book, a photographic memoir called Black Taxi: Shooting South Africa, was written after Kendall spent a year working as a photojournalist in Johannesburg in 1993-94 while also completing her degree in Political Science from the University of Calgary. She is the founder and CEO of Culture Dock, a new video and photo-sharing app that facilitates cross-cultural awareness for tourists and the culturally curious. In 2009, after living ten years in Zurich, Kendall returned to Canada with her two daughters. She now lives in Toronto and is working on her third book while occasionally contributing features for The Women’s Media Center.
The Swiss respect each other’s personal space and aren’t known to pry. Once I learned this, I understood that it was up to me to broach conversation (without being too forward) and to not be offended by what seems like an overwhelming lack of curiosity when in their presence. As a Canadian I’m used to being introduced along with a tag line that explains a bit about me to facilitate conversation. In Switzerland it took me awhile to navigate ‘aperos’ and to also build friendships but those I made ended up being deep and lasting.
When I think of my passion for understanding cultures and where it all began, I’m taken to South Africa where I first traveled as a tourist in 1991. It was the year after Nelson Mandela was released from prison and I was experiencing a country awakening from a very dark past. Hooked, I returned two years later to work as a photojournalist as the country prepared for its first democratic elections. It was a life-changing year for me but I believe my most memorable, and rewarding trip was when I returned almost 20 years later with my teenage daughters so they too could learn about South Africa and the many lessons it has to teach.