Monday, August 26, 2013

"Working Like a Motswana"

The other day, as I raked my large yard of dirt, a woman walking by paused, shifted her weight to one hip, and smiled from ear to ear.  I felt her presence on the other side of the gate, wiped the sweat from my brow, and looked up with a friendly greeting “Dumela Mma!” (At this point, I’m used to being a splendorous attraction). She shook her head and smiled even bigger.  “Kitso!” She exclaimed, her voice gaining an octave with each word, “You are working like a Motswana!”  I couldn’t help but chuckle and nod it off.  I affirmed her statement by saying, “Eeh Mma!” She continued on her journey, her face still creased into a smile. 

Watering the garden (that has since died due to no water in the village)

A couple days later, as I rode my newly-bought bicycle to the junior secondary school, children ran alongside me screaming with excitement.  Talk began circulating around the village that I knew how to ride a bicycle and people came to my house simply to ask me to ride it so that they may watch. 

Every day, I’m humored by the simple-natured things that I do that people find to be most fascinating.  The most entertaining of these, I think, (not including the raking or bicycle riding) is the fact that I know how to whistle.  Apparently, whistling is a very “masculine” characteristic here.  For those of you who know me well, I whistle to myself a good deal, usually without even noticing.  It seems like every time someone who has never heard me whistle before hears me for the first time, they offer their aghast reaction (two short exhales with their mouth and eyes wide open), followed by a prodigious cackle. 

A man in my shopping village was shocked to hear me whistle

I think it’s going to be difficult for me to go back to the U.S. simply because I often enjoy being a source of inquiry for everyone around me!

That being said, as much as I try to “capacity build” my peers in Gobojango about the axiomatic nature of the diversity of Americans (that yes, we are able to do mundane tasks), I still find it difficult to verbally express our commonalities as a human race.  Rather, things that I simply assume are common-knowledge (like riding a bicycle or raking a yard) are shocking to my host country national peers.  People still get a kick out of watching me hang my laundry to dry outside, and to this day (16 months later) I am often pleasantly taken by surprise when an individual sheds light on the subject.
I love when young girls want to touch my hair. 
I've heard everything from "it feels like doll hair" to "it feels like donkey hair"!

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