Sunday, March 25, 2012

African time vs. Mazungu time:

I don’t know if I’ve ever written about the difference in expectations for showing up “on time” in Uganda…but man is it a frequent thought in my mind.

When a meeting is set to begin at 9:00 am….this Mazungu is faced with a dilemma.

Do I arrive at 9:00 with the hope that others will be on time? I am fully aware that the meeting has a 99.9% likelihood of beginning around 10:05…but what if…what if everyone happens to be on time today? Then I would be late…me, the Mazungu, late? Strangely, that is unacceptable! It is okay, even expected, for everyone else to be on “African time”…but if I am, people notice and would definitely question why I was late! So then, if I come at 9:00 (or, let’s be honest with ourselves, since it is me we are talking about, I’ll be at the meeting at 8:55) then I will be sitting in an empty room by myself for about an hour and ten minutes (give or take 30 minutes).

My solution:
Bring work with me. The American born-and-bred-woman in me hates wasting time.  So, I carry with me work that can be completed while I inevitably wait.

My newest solution is to also leave my house at exactly the time the meeting should begin…that way I don’t look too eager. Haha

Being a Mazungu takes a lot of thought sometimes!

One more thing, just because I think it is super funny and at the same time really cute, I will also share another tid-bit about my week. As I was leaving the school the other day, a couple of the students ran up to me and thrust hand-made envelopes into my hands and ran away. This is actually a very common occurrence, because the kids like to write letters to their Mazungu sponsors. Sometimes I think they believe all Mazungus have some sort of instantaneous network that connects us to one another with which I can use for delivering such envelopes (well, as I write that I am given the idea to scan and email the letters so the sponsors can see the kid's work...I guess we Mazungus do have such a network!) One of the envelopes was not for a was addressed to Christine (which, by the way is the name Ugandans write/pronounce when trying to write/say Kristen). When I opened it, I found a group of adorable crayon/pencil drawings, two photographs of her family (which I feel guilty for having, since pictures are hard to come by here,) and a note that explains how much she loves me and how wonderful she thinks I am. The best part: One of the drawings was titled: This is you, Christine and below, featured me, in a HUGE wedding gown with a veil and big bouquet!

.....Ummm....thank you? What does one say when a child is drawing pictures of my yet-to-occur wedding day? I will be scanning the picture for Facebook soon, it is too cute not to share. Oh, kids do the darnedest things. 

With love,

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