Pink Monkey Knits

Using my opposable thumbs to knit up a storm!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Report from the Far Corners of the World 

Every immersion in a different culture presents its own challenges and opportunities for laughter. Every return home exposes the cultural values and frameworks that we take for granted as Americans. Never was this more true than with my most recent trip to Israel and Uganda.

Jaffa Gate

Corner Stone of Anointing

Dome and Western Wall

I Love J

Ahava

In Israel, we saw the depth of faith that people can possess, and how it can be both sustaining to the spirit and a rationalization for dehumanization of others. Bonds of family and friendship were strengthened. Most of all, we ate a lot of really delicious food! My last trip to Israel was just three years ago, so it felt fairly familiar to be there. I knew how to use the money, where to go and what to see. It's a well-developed country and it's always easy to find someone who speaks English. This portion of the trip felt most like a vacation. I also think it's a good experience to feel what it's like to be in the majority every once in a while.

You can see all of my Israel pictures here. Unfortunately, there aren't that many because I dropped my camera our first day there and had to leave it at the repair shop for a week!

English Student

Cow and Synagogue

Samuel and Coffee Tree

Avram Runs

Hedy and Joseph

Mama Rebecca Rides

Ugandan American Friendship

Finished First Oak Ribbed Sock
This is pretty much the only knitting I finished the whole time: one simple sock.

Uganda is too much to try to express in a few simple sentences. Everything, and I mean everything, in Africa is different, so I could write lengthy posts just about the way it rains, the differences between American and Ugandan English, the roads, the vehicles, the animals, the plants, the look of the land - EVERYTHING. The one small similarity that I could share with many of people we met there was heritage. Indeed, we spent much of our time there with the small Jewish community. You can read about the community and the history of how they became Abayudaya (Jewish) here.

For the most part, I was very overwhelmed the majority of the time I was there and really tried just to take in my surroundings and experiences. Despite this, I was able to make some deep friendships with some of the young people in the community who, despite the varied multitude of struggles they face, are smart, gracious, ambitious and want to contribute positively to their community. They are role models.

One of the things I really had to get used to there was my status as a Muzungu (white person). When we would drive through the villages (on a 250 cc motorcycle loaded with three people with me only wearing a bike helmet for safety), many of the young children would run out to yell "muzungu, how are you?" as we passed. Sometimes, so many kids would do it, we would have a stereo effect; kids would be yelling "muzungu" in front of us, to the sides and from the back. I also think it's a good experience to feel what it's like to be in the minority every once in a while.

You can see all of my Uganda pictures here, but know that they only scratch the outermost surface of my experience there.

Now, I'm back in my new home of Seattle, trying to process my experience and establish myself in the community here. I'm glad to be back here in this wonderful place, and also here in my wonderful virtual community. I started this blog three years ago this month, and have only reaped rewards from it. Thank you for continuing to make me welcome here and to make me happy to come home.

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