Our children fall into the classification of the title of this blog. We were talking with a colleague who has served over 20 years in different roles and in many different countries in Africa. She is a lot of fun to talk to and has a good sense of humor. We got on the topic of educational differences due to environment where we live. Below are some highlights of our conversation.
Confusion using American curriculum for a child who lives in Cameroon:
What color is an orange? The child raised in the United States would answer – orange. The child raised in Cameroon would answer – green. (Yes, that’s right our oranges are green, when they turn orange they are rotten)
Where does peanut butter come from? The child raised in the United States would answer – store. The child raised in Cameroon would answer – the peanuts come from the lady on the street in an old liquor bottle, then you grind them into peanut butter.
What are the four seasons? The child raised in the United States would answer – winter, spring, summer and fall. The child raised in Cameroon would answer – there are only two seasons, wet and dry.
Where do you buy shoes? The child raised in the United States would answer – the store. The child raised in Cameroon would answer – from the man with the shoe on his head on the street or the man pushing the shoe cart on the street or the person with a pile of shoes on the side of the street.
The things parents forget:
When you live in a culture/society, you see and experience certain things without giving it a second thought. When you are trying to raise your children to understand your home culture, while living outside of your home culture, it’s hard to remember everything they would just pick-up if they were living in your home culture. Below are some stories we have heard and I’m sure we will get to add our own after we return on furlough.
A child that has been raised in Central African Republic returned to the United States and started public school. Everyone stood up, placed their hand over their hearts and recited proudly the Pledge of Allegiance. The child looked around and followed the standing up and placing his hand on his heart, but what were they reciting?
A mother so badly wanted her daughters to look like all the other kids when they arrived back on furlough. She had her sister send her popular patterns and material so she could make clothes so the girls would fit in. She proudly disembarked the plane with her husband and two daughters following them. She wondered why the passerby’s kept looking behind her puzzled. She turned around and saw that her daughters were carrying their suitcases on their heads.