Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sin of the week, 5/4/08

The worst thing I did this week was be culturally insensitive and not care at all about it.

One of my students asked me what I was doing for summer vacation, and I mentioned that I was going to Africa.

"Oh, that's great," she replied. "You must be going over there to do relief work. What a great idea!"

"Oh," I said. "Yeah, I guess it's great. Yeah."

"So, what kind of work will you be doing? The math teacher is going to dig a well in a village in Kenya. It's so awesome!" she said.

"Oh," I said. "I, um, I am going to be bringing clothing* over there for, um, the mountain people in Tanzania."

"Clothing?" she said.

"Yeah. The don't have enough warm clothing up there."

"Africa is really hot, right?"

"Well yeah, but the mountains are colder. And stuff."

My student then figured out that I am just a smarmy American tourist with sporting ambitions and relatively little interest in the welfare of African people. And I felt shabby.

Shabby is what I am.

Get ready for Monday. It's on its way.

*We leave our gear behind when climbing in impoverished countries. The local guides can use it and we can get more at home. (But I am still shabby).


Annie said...

Hey, we all can't be selfless :-), sometimes we have to do stuff just for us, it's no sin.

Jennifer said...

I really don't think this is a terrible sin... look at all the people living in our own contry that don't give a crap about the people in need here.

oh. well.

enjoy your trip and no worries about going only for tourism and travel, it still helps their contry in some way!! :)

have a good one!!
hugs, jenn

Maggie said...

Please. That student was pompous and pretentious. You are providing tourist income. You leave behind your clothes and gear. Also, what kind of idiot says "Africa's really hot, right?" It's a very large continent, plus mountains!

I wish I were going climbing...