There is no hiding my skin color (duh). And there is almost no way to hide all the baggage that comes with having that skin color while abroad. It is simultaneously liberating (because there is nothing you can do about it) and isolating (because there is nothing you can do about it).
My co-worker told me during my first day here that I had obviously had "embraced being different". I don't know about embraced. But what the heck can I do about my skin color or how the kids react to it? Not much. So I just go with it.
Because really I have significantly more experiences that prove how similar we are. And its hard not to smile at the earnest voices calling out from the banana trees.
In Tanzania, I was followed by chants of "Mzungu, mzungu, mzungu!"
In Kenya, it was "Howareyou, howareyou, howareyou!"
Here, in Rwanda, its "givememoney, givememoney, givememoney!"
I am contemplating if all three chants are the same, or if I can read into the differences.
But really, nah, I don't think so. Bright, smiling kids cheering your arrival, many expectantly. I think most have no idea what they are saying. In Kenya, for example, they would pluralize 'howareyou' as if it was a noun in Swahili.
I am still curious, after all these years, who teaches these kiddos to chant, scream, and chase after cars. Will it always be like this? Will I always be reminded that I am different, over, and over, and over again? (although I don't think that's the purpose of the chanting.) And will I always be asked for things? (I doubt that's the purpose either.)
Only time will tell. And hopefully I will be in 'the biz' long enough to update you down the road.
sidebar: I have been thinking a lot about this article lately, and think I will write a blog post about my thoughts later.So read up.