When traveling, it’s important to drop your ethnocentricities. You want to be able to look at the culture you find yourself immersed in for what it is, not what it is in comparison to your home culture. Here in Guinea, that means embracing different standards of beauty, understanding that when voices are raised, people are not necessarily angry, and not being offended by constantly being called foti, white person.
Soso – “sue sue”
I try to spend at least an hour and a half each day on language training. I’m focusing mostly on Soso, as I have more resources on my computer for that. My resources for French language learning are all internet based, and as I learned in my first week, the internet here is not usable for much beyond sending email, and even that takes a looooong time. Luckily, the French I learned prior to leaving the States has stuck, and the rest I can figure out with my background in Spanish, Latin, and English due to the root similarities of the languages.
So my sit-down and study time is devoted to Susu. My boyfriend, with his many languages on hand, is my preferred teacher, but it’s difficult to get him to sit down for ten minutes, let alone ninety. It’s been five years since he’s been in the country, and the home is a constant parade of long lost family and friends coming by to catch up. That means that he’s usually to be found in the midst of a crowd animatedly telling a story about life in the States or a recent adventure we’ve had here in Guinea.
The snow began to fall the day of our departure. When I checked JFK’s website for flight info, I saw that almost all the flights leaving between the one-hour time frame as mine were canceled….except my flight! With fingers crossed and a cell-phone text alert engaged, we piled into my aunt and uncle’s SUV with our small city of luggage. Only 2 suitcases held personal belongings. The rest were packed full of the donation of soccer uniforms, deflated soccer balls, as well as an accumulation of shoes, clothes, and school supplies that we’d been buying the previous months. Read the rest of this entry