Day 36

At this very moment I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Kampala, savoring every single drop of a real cup of coffee.  I feel a little bit spoiled.  When I sit in places like this, I have to laugh to myself sometimes at the irony it represents.  There are random pockets of Western influences here in the unlikeliest places.  (Is unlikeliest a word?)  A hotspot internet cafe with fancy drinks on dirt road with crumbling buildings next door.  Or sitting with a family in a very primitive living room watching American Soaps/Movies.

Classes are finally in full swing.  I’m taking African Lit, Gender & Development, another sociology class, a worldviews class, and a religions class.  My classroom in Gender & Development consists of about 200 African students, and 3 white females.  It’s pretty much how I feel here all of the time: glowing conspicuously in a sea of black.  The stares never go away.  Every single class in Gender & Development, I leave annoyed, exasperated, and a little hot headed.  I suppose sitting in a class about gender inequality in Uganda where mostly men are giving their opinions will do it to you.  Let me just give you an idea of what our discussions are like. 

We talked about stereotypes of gender roles in developing countries.  (Each of these stereotypes was offered by a male):

Men:                    Women:

independent        dependent

strong                   weak

superior                inferior

genius                   dumb

brave                    cowardice

and the list goes on…  it get’s me so fired up in class, I have to hold myself back from telling somebody off.  Last Tuesday, I asked the tall Ugandan guy I met earlier in the class whether he thought they were true or not.  He said that they were.  As did the rest of the class.  My conversation with Herbert (the tall one) went something like this, Me: “Herbert, do you really think women are dumb and men geniuses?” Herbert: “Yes, I think that is true. Not many women are intelligent.” (except that he spelled intelligent  i-n-t-e-l-i-g-e-n-t)  Me: “Why? What if you were wrong?”  Herbert: “I’ve done research so I don’t think I’m wrong.”  Me: “Oh, really. And what did you find?”  Herbert: “I found out that there are 80% dumb ladies, and 20% dumb men.”  At that point, I told him that research was flawed and biased.  I told him we’d continue the conversation later (where I will prove that his information is completely bogus).  I try to be as respectful of the difference in culture as I can, I really do.  All the same, it is extremely frustrating.  The frustrating part is that the men will blame it on the culture, as if everything in a culture has to be right… Mm. it’s going to be an interesting year. 

Something I never thought I’d have a problem with – personal space – has become completely redefined.  Everyone is so touchy with no personal bubble whatsoever.  It’s become a harder thing than I anticipated.  

 Oh, yes – the football match.  Amazing.  Soccer IS a universal language.  At the same time, this game was the most atypical game I’ve played in my entire soccer career.  =)  We were told initially the match would be at 4.  It started at 10 after 5. a pile of unwashed uniforms was waiting for us, as well as a pile of mens cleats size 9 and up.  we had 9 players on our team (a team is supposed to be 11 aside).  The game was an experience.  We won 2-0.  I was able to play striker and had 1 goal, 1 assist.  It was so much fun to play again.  Check flickr for pictures.  (Look closely for one of the goal).

 I think my blog has evolved into a novel, so I’ll wait to tell you about my stay with an African family in Mukono.  This weekend will be catching up on schoolwork… I need motivation.  or Divine intervention. 

Thanks for listening to my ramblings and grievances.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Day 36

  1. Nancy Talbot

    Hi Sarah,
    I loved reading your blog. You are a great writer. I will check in from time to time, so I can keep up with all you do. What a great experience. I don’t have a lot of time to write today. Elizabeth is waking up from her nap. Yes, I am babysitting and loving it.
    Miss you,
    Aunt Nancy

  2. Terry

    Sarah, you ROCK! It’s so great to be able to read about your experiences there. Thank you for sharing them! It’s hard to imagine how a culture can believe those male/female stereotypes are actually true. Research??? I am praying that you can prove that belief is wrong to at least one person. Glad you got to enjoy the soccer match in spite of the big shoes and stinky uniforms.
    We found a house here in Richland and are moving in Oct. 25th. The kids and I are going to pick out a boxer puppy today and she’ll be joining our family in about 5 weeks!
    Your cuzz,
    Terry

  3. Jeremy

    Sarah, I gotta go with Herbert on this one. I have been driving in DC lately and I am pretty sure his numbers are right. 80/20 give or take a few. Maybe you should be a little more submissive in class and you might learn a few things!!!!! BOys rule Girls drool!

  4. Tammie

    Ok, here is your motivation — maybe, just maybe you will help change the hearts and minds of the “80%” in your classroom. You are there for a reason, that’s for sure. I know you can make a difference, even if you are planting seeds for the men to look at their women differently…..keep on keeping on Sarah Bury! I’m right proud of you! (I just finished listening to a book based in 1940 WV I do believe that’s where the “right” part came out of that last sentence! LOL)

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