Saturday, January 26, 2013

Not Wrong, Just Different

A few weeks before leaving for Kenya I took a course called SPLICE. I have already shared via this blog a few things I learned there. One thing I have not yet shared is the saying "not wrong, just different". Frequently we come up against things in a new culture and immediately think "that is wrong"for example we say that in England people drive on the "wrong" side of the road. Here in Kenya they do not drive on the wrong side of the road but on the other side of the road. This is different than Canada and I have almost got in the driver side once or twice when I am meaning to be the passenger and been confused when entering a traffic circle but this is not wrong just different.
So I have compiled a list of differences that I have noticed, some I need to remind myself that they are not wrong others are just interesting differences.
  • The power here is 240V and the plug in are British style, whenever I have to plug something in I double check the small writing to make sure I don't fry it.
  • People here dress "smart", they are expected to dress cleanly and their best. Last week I lectured at the Kenya Medical Training College - all the men are in dress pants and white tops and the girls in blue dresses, they also have sweaters to put on top which they often wear as well even when its 25 degrees. They look good or "smart" as they say.
  • I need to be more aware of my surroundings when walking, being white=money so I am careful to guard my  pockets, also the sidewalks are not level and there might not be a cover on the manhole that I just walked by. The first part of this is wrong, stealing needs to be stopped.
  • I can walk down the block and buy 2 mangoes, 1 avocado and 4 (large) bananas for the equivalent of $1.70 Cad. This is definitely not wrong
  • Just because you are going somewhere by car does not mean you will get there quickly. I have been walking to and from my practicums about 4 km one way. When I started my jaunt the other day I noticed a large van with 3 nuns inside, when I got to my turn, 4 km later, I looked to cross the road and there was that same van with the 3 nuns.
  • When eating out it is not always a good idea to eat everything on your plate. Fresh veggies are full of bacteria and need to be bleached before you eat them, this is not always done at public eating places, they are washed in tap water, wich is not clean, and foreign guts do not appreciate new bacteria and parasites
  • I may not drink the tap water, I may not brush my teeth with tap water, I may not wash my veggies in tap water  The reason - the above mentioned bacteria and parasites
  • I must plan my bathroom breaks to include comfort - by comfort I am talking a toilet with a seat and toilet paper. In public the options are often not up to the standard north Americans expect. 
  • Just because you are told something starts at such and such a time does not mean it will.
I will end there but there may be part 2 of this when I start work at Tenwek.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed this. Just got back from Swaziland. All the best for the rest of your experiences!