Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Cultural Snaffus

Today we learned a lesson about cultural snaffus. Of course, the culture shock has been huge, like HUGE, like I'm still trying to figure out how to write about it huge, but today was a particularly draining day.

We arrived at Africulturban to install the first of the water purification systems and things kind of fell apart. They needed a longer pipe to do what they were planning to do, they had to call the plumber to come, they decided to change where the system was going because they wanted a secure location... it was one thing after another. The students (and I) assumed we would just come, install, and voila, we'd be done. However, everything here moves at slower pace, which is not bad... it's just different than what we are used to in America. We are used to instant gratification. I order a burger, you give it to me in less than five minutes. I schedule an appointment and I'd better be there on time OR ELSE. What a lesson in patience for all of us.

We ended up waiting around for almost five hours, which was trying everyone's patience... adults and students from both schools. We tried to fill the time, but it was very difficult because of language barriers and lack of planning time. Whew... what a day.

We did a poetry slam workshop, but by the time the workshop started, students from both schools were frustrated and we didn't get a lot of students opening up with their local narratives in poem form. All in all, today was the most frustrating day of all of the days we've been here. As a woman in a Muslim country, I've been trying very hard to put aside my assertive personality, but today I had to speak up. It only took about 6 hours for me to work up the nerve. It didn't blow up in my face and we decided to be sure to keep the students occupied from now on. After all, some of them might be 18 and almost grown, but they need a lot of structure and guidance.

AHHHHHHHHHH! No one told me that being in another country with a bunch of students would be so crazy/emotional/frustrating...

Now, now, not everything today was frustrating... here are a few highlights:
We're tagging Africulturban. I would tell you who did this, but then you would know if you saw it around town and that is not the point of tagging... hehe.

Cranston tagging Ama's arm. Yes, we tag arms too. What else do you do with so much time? 

Jasmine explaining her poem to the group. 

Cranston from Jen Heymoss on Vimeo.

Cranston's reading... a nice mix of English, Wolof, and French. Very cool.

On a lighter (yet really, really gross note), here is my disgusting mosquito picture of the day. If you have a queasy stomach (like mine this morning) you might not want to look at this picture:
Dinnertime! Leprosy feet anyone?
I have the most mosquito bites I've ever had in my life. 


1 comment:

Mr. Weber said...

Well, if it makes you feel any better, everything I try to do with a group runs into those same sort of snafus over here. I suppose I could blame my own lack of planning, but I'd rather just attribute it to the way that the world works. I'm okay with that. Also, it looks like you're leaving a lot of blood over there... Would insect repellent have been able to go in your carry-on? Hell, if I thought it would make it there before you left, I'd send some 40% Deet repellent!

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