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Coming Home

Debriefing Exercises to Help You Process Reentry Shock

By Lisa Espineli Chinn

Group leaving Africa
Photo: Taylor University, "Leaving Africa," used with permission.

You have changed! You are not the same person who left home a couple weeks (or months) ago!

In the weeks ahead, you may well find yourself responding to everyday events in ways you never responded before. Common things may provoke an uncommon response or at least a very different set of thoughts and feelings. These are moments that reveal ways you have changed, where you may now feel a degree of “reentry shock.”

To help you see how you view life and the world differently now, discuss the following with your group or process them in your journal:

Exercise 1: Coming Home

Complete the following sentences:

  1. As I return to the United States, I feel ...
  2. I will be going back to ...
  3. Going back will enable me to ...
  4. Regarding money, I will be ...
  5. I think the hardest part of going back for me will be ...
  6. I think the easiest part of going back will be ...
  7. I cannot wait to ...
  8. I think the return home will be …
  9. I expect the reception from my family will be …
  10. I anticipate my church to be …
  11. I picture my friends to be …
  12. I expect my family to …
  13. I hope my church will …
  14. I think my friends will be …
  15. I am looking forward to …

Exercise 2: Settling In

Complete the following sentences (1-2 months after returning home):

  1. Now that I am back home, I feel …
  2. I now find it easy to …
  3. I now find it hard to …
  4. I wish …
  5. The people who I feel understand me are …
  6. I like being with …
  7. I enjoy (name an activity) …
  8. My spouse/family says I …
  9. My friends think I am …
  10. My pastor has asked me to …
  11. I need help in …
  12. I need someone who …