What NOT to do

This is a good way to look like a stupid mzungu at a high school basketball game. Jacob can kind of get away with it since he’s the coach and he always shakes hands later with the people he yells at. (plus some people think he’s Jesus because of the beard) I don’t have any way to get away with it. The Jesus-thing won’t work for me and I think I look a little less spectacular when I yell.

American can yell at sporting events and people think it’s normal. Rwandans think you look out-of-control.

Chelsea is here! We’ve been best friends for forever and now we are actually living together. (That’s a little scary) But she’s here working on research for her masters paper and she’ll be here for a few months. Last weekend Robin and I visited one of her work sites with her. She started off explaining what she was wanting to do at the site. They (the people in charge) interrupted her and made her back up, greet, shake hands and then explain why she was there.

Americans just say “how are you?” if they feel like it. Rwandans begin nearly every conversation that way.

I don’t have a good third example…hmmmm, this will seem like an unbalanced post, but I can’t think of a third culture-point right now. Oh well. Just remember, don’t yell so much and make sure to begin your conversations with some pleasantries.

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6 Responses to “What NOT to do”

  1. In South Africa it is like that too. It is considered rude to just dive in and carry on your business without greeting someone first. Growing up in the Apartheid years, my only real interaction with black people was in first year university. I learned very quickly to greet university staff and even go so far as asking how they were before making my requests or demands. I never experienced the difficulties other white students did when interacting with staff. It is a lesson I have carried right through my life (I started university 17 years ago) and it has always helped me to overcome initial barriers when meeting African people.

  2. Wow, I did not realize that greeting people was a cultural thing. I guess since I work in a large diverse company it is just natural to greet people and pause to see if the greeting needs to take a specific direction.

  3. Have a good time with Chelsea! When did she get there?

  4. I’m so glad I found your blog! Keep writing. What’s Chelsea doing her research on? I’m in my first year of grad school (rural sociology at Auburn University) and may be doing my thesis on small fish farming cooperatives in Uganda. I’m glad you guys are there doing what you’re doing.

  5. Chels got here almost two weeks ago 🙂 She’s working with street kids and doing her thesis on their play interactions (or something like that).
    Glad you found us Emily. Hope your grad school work is going well!

  6. I think Jacob looks like Obie Lansford in that picture.

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