American mind

One thing I love about Ethiopia is the casual attitude. There is no rushing, there is not a “rat race”. Relationships are the focus and that means you do not drop everything to be on time. You make sure you have a good breakfast. You are fully present in the moment. But no matter how much I appreciate this, my American mind gets in the way. I did not want to write about yesterday because I did not want you all to see the selfish American part of my brain…you may diagnose me with narcissism, if you haven’t already 🙂

The training was scheduled to begin at 8:30. I knew that was not likely so I did not feel a rush to be there at 8:00 to set up. So we arrived about 8:20 to an empty room. 9:00 came around, 2 arrivals, 9:30 a few more. We were supposed to wait for the 2 government people and then we could start. But we started with out them. Good thing because they showed up around 10:30. We took a break at 11:00 and then had lunch at 12:30. We gave an hour for lunch and they said 90 minutes. We agreed as long as they came back on time (we were about 1/4 through the material. ). We even promised gifts to the first 4 back.

At lunch I started to stress. Jill had so much to cover still and I had not even started. My American mind was sneaking in and I was letting it. Jill readjusted and figured out what she could skip. And I decided to say “chiggerelum” (“No problem” in Amharic)

When we retuned from lunch 2 people were there, 2 more arrived shortly after. After 2 hours, we wanted to start, to honor those who did arrive on time. It felt disrespectful to them since they were just sitting and waiting, but we were advised to wait. At this point I gave up on being culturally aware, I was just annoyed. I had worked very hard on my presentation and I was not going to have a chance to do it. I flew for 2 days and drove another 6 hours and I was going to do nothing. Not only did my American mind creep in, but I also had turned this training into being about me. So I worked hard on a training, I will use it at some point, and they are getting a lot, clearly what Jill is training on is crucial information!

But what makes me upset is that I let it get to me. I train on cultural attunement, this is my 5th time in Ethiopia. But I couldn’t look beyond what I have been taught, even if I do not agree with it!

So I wonder, why this time? Why after 4 previous trips with no concern, why this time?
Sigh. I guess I just need to keep coming back!

And for fun, I will end with a few light hearted cultural moments. Cell phones are always out and ringing. Durning a training, during a home study…and they are answered. And there was the guy who followed us today, a professional who wanted to go with us, feel asleep during one home study and was picking his nose and did a farmers blow during the other!


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