April 18, 2010
I sometimes call myself the Unwilling Anthropologist. But not anymore! My enlightenment came at a very unexpected place - a women's conference......
Before embarking in 3 very small, very low-on-the-ground cars the pastor's wife reminded us to "Not stick together but mingle" ?? "Now why would she have to say that?", I wondered, but not for long - these little cars can really fly!
When we arrived (safely, thank goodness, i couldn't find the seat belt!) i saw the Why....we were the minority, or let me be frank, the twenty of us were the only whites. As i never were much of a group person or could handle any form of a click, i was off to "mingle" and very happy to do so!! And this, dear friend was not to make a point or to be an example of what a good integrated SAcan could look like, oh no! This was SURVIVAL IN SOUTH AFRICA for me!
Let me explain a bit more......
When living in another culture one naturally has to ask questions, learn the reasoning (if any) behind certain behaviour or mannerisms or whatnots and so when i go back to the good ole' SA i really struggle NOT to do it! I have a hard time not to ask questions as to why or why not?? I have learnt the hard way that people of my own culture really do not enjoy this at all! They are affected in strange ways - the person could suddenly contract a severe sore throat, or a coughing fit and they would HAVE to go off to find something to drink, never to return to your side of the sitting room!! Or if i would forget that i am not suppose to challenge ANYONE and say some little thing, the subject would be changed or dinner would be instantly ready, or they would urgently HAVE to go shopping for a very important ingredient...ah well.....smile and nod, i guess!
and this brings me to yesterday......
And there i was, IN MY ELEMENT again - the tall, wild-haired, white person in the midst of small brown people, people who were eager to answer my questions even though i was a total stranger! I am naturally a shy person, but here i was making new friends and having really a great time mingling and not feeling strained or unnatural, even blending in (well almost!) Doing what i do everyday when in my small village! (and just for a treat i could speak to these new friends and sisters in Christ in my own mother tongue!)
I went to the conference expecting to receive input (which also happened) but came home with a new sense that God really has called and equipped me for exactly this...and so, no more "unwillingness"from my side! God knows me best!
Bella, the curious and willing anthropologist! Viva!