Friday, June 11, 2010

Culture Tour de Force (Or, The Last Day In A Hotel)

Belated Post

Today was more training, of course, but this was also the day where the PC Trainers prepared us for a new family: our host family. The training staff prepared us with many details of what we should expect, and then they conducted a very entertaining skit introducing several things that might run counter to the Americans in us. Eating, greeting, where to go to the bathroom, and many more things made for an informative production.

Some things that I am eager for is some stability and a time to get to hear a language spoken by people a majority of the time. We were told that someone in the house is likely to speak English, which would be nice, but I need to be reminded constantly of words, phrases, objects, etc in the new language. When I am with my fellows here, I speak English 99.5% of the time. That means I am learning about 20 minutes a day of Twi. Not ideal. So as the morning progressed I had this feeling that finally I can get that confidence in my language skills by immersing my head in it.

Oddities though in culture: eating a meal at the family level is about eating, not idle chatter. Keeping silent and having the time to talk before or after is best in some families. Utensils for the food is not required so I should not have to worry about which side the fork goes on when setting the table. The toilet is really an outhouse, and the name they use for the upgraded outhouse is VIP (Ventilated Improved Pit), but you are still referring to it with the term 'pit' attached. That can't be pretty but then again, it might be similar to what you use when you are at a town fair and the port-a-potties are lined up. Still, no flushing. There were many other things that they reviewed but those were the most jarring in my mind as to what I was expecting. Or what was new to me.

So beyond that, what we really had in the morning was more Twi. I liked the set up (smaller groups) and the focus on breaking down what words meant versus memorizing one phrase after the other. That was good. The bad might be that I still don't have a good grasp of words and recall of useful responses. I spoke with our Training Leader and she said that it will all come. I hope she is right.

Again, all of the volunteers have been nice and I am really glad the group is friendly, altruistic to a fault almost, and really funny. Good times when you can find people who are more eager than you are to laugh.

It just occurred to me that we have been in the country a full week. Maybe I should let up a  bit on memorizing something completely new to me. It is still great fun, that is for sure.

Oh, I missed calling my mother last night. I had to leave a long message on the answering machine and I bet that while that might have made her happy, she was probably sad that she missed me directly. That should change soon when I get a cell phone. Ahh, technology in the jungle.

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