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Finding Balance Between Community and Individualism With Donna Fields | EP80

Podcast Description

How do we balance community and independence?

This question is posed by today’s guest, Donna Fields, who, twenty years ago, moved to Spain, and experienced culture shock, going from the United States – an individualistic society – to one that was collectivist and communal. 

Donna is an author, professor, teacher, trainer, and host of the podcast Doorways to Learning with Donna. Here, she asks: what do we look for when we leave one place and go to another? For her, it was family and community. But is it possible to be TOO communal? 

Spaniards are often extremely family oriented, but is it possible family ties literally tie them down when they could have more experiences if allowed to cut loose? When you move somewhere so different, it makes you wonder: where’s the balance? What feels right to me?

I love episodes like today’s. It feels like we could just be sitting around the kitchen table with a cup of coffee, trying to explore life’s deeper meanings. We don’t answer all the questions, but it sure is an interesting conversation.

In this episode you’ll hear about:

  • All about Donna – her background in New York and New Mexico and how she ended up in Spain for the last 20 years
  • What do we look for when we leave one place and go to another? And why do we leave the house in general – to do something, or to be with other people?
  • Spanish vs. American culture: how each views family, community, reciprocity, trust, etc., and the pros and cons of each
  • The hyper-vigilance required in individualistic societies where you’re doing everything by yourself
  • The ripple effects we can have on others and the power of letting go 

Resources & Links:

Donna has compiled some material that will generate fascinating conversations about cultural differences and the natural unions of communities. 

Check out Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert D. Putnam, and if you haven’t yet, listen to Episode 41 about the Liking Gap.

Like what you hear? Visit my website, leave me a voicemail, and follow me on Instagram and TikTok!

Want to take this conversation a step further? Send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting and use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out!


Profile Photo for Alex Alexander a blonde haired white woman smiling at the camera. She is in her 30s with her hair down and curled and wearing a grey sweater.

Hi! I'm Alex.

I am just a person who has spent an extraordinary amount of time trying to understand some of the relationships that I hold most dear. I invite you to join in on the conversation below in the comments section below.

Ask questions, leave comments, share critiques or give advice. All are welcome.

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Hi. I'm Alex.

I'm just a gal who cares deeply about community + friendship. Why? Well, I didn't have a healthy support system growing up.

So I built one... out of friends. I believe a healthy support system is the ultimate self-care.

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