|Andrea and Madison on the road|
|"Pole sana because the pole cows |
are walking polepole in the middle of the road"
|The Parker family at Lake Naivasha|
“The cup broke itself”: The routine phrase for how something has been damaged is that the item has damaged itself. Only after further prodding would a child reveal that the cup broke because he was throwing it across the room at his sister. To the western mind, the child seemingly shirks his responsibility. Conversely, his sister, by using the same language, protects her brother from the shame that would befall him. This passive language, a familiar reaction of children, permeates Swahili. There does not seem to be the same need to quickly assign blame or even take responsibility. There are both beneficial and detrimental effects in expressing oneself in this way, but you may see the problems it could create for me, someone who proudly takes the blame for his patients’ outcomes regardless of direct involvement. I’m sure I will make my share of mistakes, but maybe learning language will let me understand my mistakes a little better.
|The old "stick bridge" down the hill from Tenwek.|
Since replaced, but undoubtedly strong
These are just a few of our superficial observations. We look forward to learning more of the language and culture in the upcoming years. Perhaps the best part of our time learning Swahili has been the window it provides into observing a different culture. What a fun road we are on.