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Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Month in Review



Kids say the strangest things

I’ve recently re-started club ACE (Anglais, Culture, Environment) at the local CEG (High School). I have a basic template every class, but for one section I encourage the students to ask me questions about life in America.
I’ve cherry picked my favorite parts of the conversations for humors sake (the more serious issues were discussed at length).
Here are some of my favorite questions and responses to date:

Female student: Do boys in America perform Gri Gri (magic) on the girls to get the girl to like them?
Me: What do you mean?
Female student: The boys give the girls something to eat so the girls will have to like them.
Me: Do they do that here?!? Cause in America that’s called date rape with a roofie.
Male student: So what do you do if you like a girl and she doesn’t like you?
Me: Umm . . . take the hint?

*Background – people here believe homosexuality doesn’t exist in Benin and that it’s only an American/French thing*
Student: Can homosexuals get married in America?
Me: In some states, yes they can.
Student: But how do they have babies?
Me: Adoption or sperm donation etc. etc.
Student: But then it would be a bastard!
Me: That’s not a big deal over there.
Student: Huh, can I move to America?
Me: That’s between you and immigration kiddo.

Student: Why are white people more intelligent than black people?
Me: (Stare dumbfounded at student for a minute) Umm, next question . . .*
*just kidding, It’s very strange (not to mention awkward) when a question like this comes up. This actually led into a huge discussion where I tried to explain that color has nothing whatsoever to do with intelligence. I did give them a pep talk about it, but I don’t think you need that.

Student: Why are you left handed?
Me: Why aren’t you?
Student: Because
Me: Exactly!

You’re on Beninese time now boy! (Read ‘boy’ with southern drawl)

How it works in America: You’re working with a counterpart who sets a meeting for 8:00 AM at the office.
7:50: You show up to prepare a little before the meeting starts.
 8:00: Your counterpart walks into the room ready to start.
8:01: You better be underway or someone’s losing their job.

How it works in Benin (unless it’s church or school): You’re working with a counterpart who sets a meeting for 8:00 AM at the office (remember, they set the time).
7:50: You show up to prepare a little before the meeting starts. Bring a book, maybe a Sudoku puzzle and an I-pod, you’ve got some time.
9:00: Some random people drop by because they’re curious as to what you’re doing there.
10:00: A different counterpart shows up ready to start, but insists that we wait for the original person to show up before we begin.
11:00: Some women show up to sell you fried bread.
11:30: Its determined the original counterpart decided to do something else today.
12:00: Start the meeting anyway. At least some people can benefit from the reason you are here right?
12:01: Debate for 30 minutes about who gets to write on the board.
12:30: Realize that half the people here only speak local language, and those who speak French don’t understand your accent.
12:31: Call it a day
2 Days later: Reschedule the meeting, send at least two text reminders, and stop by the counterpart’s house on the way to the ‘office’ just to make sure they show. Complete the meeting and feel relatively accomplished.

Random thoughts of a volunteer

  • Spanking your children isn’t punishment, its practice for sitting on a motorcycle for 3 hours on dirt roads.
  • I sometimes have an urge to throw rocks at goats when they’re in heat (BLEET BLEET BLEET BLEET!!!!!!).
  • Gardens are depressing. You work on them for 3 months then you run out of water 2 weeks before the fruit is ripe for picking.
  • $1.25 is WAY too much to pay for a 40oz beer.
  • Dear lord I miss microwave popcorn . . . and fast food. . . and A/C. . . and, and, and.

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