Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 14, 2012 5:30 PM

It fascinates me how much I learn about myself and America simply because of the questions that people ask me or at least how much I can now look at things with a different perspective.

Yesterday, as I was sitting in the staff room before lunch, some of the other teachers were having a conversation, mostly in Runyankore, so I wasn’t really paying much attention until they turned to me to ask me a question.  They asked me what my clan was.  I didn’t fully understand the context, so as I tried to clarify I came to the conclusion that they were asking me what my tribe or clan was in America.  So I told them I don’t have a tribe.  This thoroughly confused them because as it turns out they were talking about American Indian or Native Americans.  So I found myself trying to explain to them who the Native Americans are.  I’m pretty sure they were totally mind-boggled by this because what they think of as Americans (aka white people) is not the native people of the United States.  So I, yet again, found myself explaining to them that Americans can be Asian-American, African-American, Mexican-American, Native American, or Caucasian/European (which is what many Ugandans think that all Americans are).

Although I’ve explained the diversity of America and Americans many times before to different people, this was the first time I realized how bizarre this must seem to Ugandans.  And it gave me a whole new perspective on the fact that America is not based on tribes, but Uganda is.  So, as you can see, I learn a little more about my own culture every day.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jennifer,

    Greetings from the Peace Corps' Office of Third Goal and Returned Volutneer Services! Thank you for sharing your story about describing the diversity and different origins of contemporary Americans to your fellow Ugandan teachers. It is truly wonderful how much one can learn about their own culture by engaging in cross-cultural comparisons. Keep up the good work!

    Tim Slattery
    Peace Corps Program Support Assistant
    www.peacecorps.gov/thirdgoal
    thirdgoal@peacecorps.gov

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