Saturday, June 29, 2013

Compare and Contrast - Part One: Compare

Wednesday mom invited a woman over for tea who lives on campus. She's a former student who now lives here with her four children and her husband who is the director of the counselling program. It fascinated me throughout the conversation how the concerns of women and mothers changes not, no matter the number of continental lines you've crossed. Education, discipline, am I home enough? Do I need to do something different? Do I need help? I live far from family. Did I make a wrong decision with this? Am I doing right by that? 

The specific conversation revolving around her decision to homeschool her 4 daughters (ages 13, 11 and twins 7) was especially interesting. Another older woman who joined us, a campus lifer, was so concerned for the well being of the girls, their socialization and the strain it put on their mother. It was a conversation I've heard in Canada countless times. But all of the mother's concerns; help for her slower daughter, the long commute to the school that shared her values, the time she wanted to spend with them, the curriculum she wanted them to learn, all were exactly the same concerns mothers back home have that send them down the homeschooling road. But the older woman again was concerned; will they still be able to get into university?! 

There are so many things on this journey so far that have stood out to me as things, concerns and ideas that have no political boundary. Here's my list:

  • Temper Tantrums: *sigh* they happen to all kids, all over the world 
  • Dishpan hands. Turns out every country has dish soap that claims to provide sparkling dishes and be soft hands while hard on grease
  • Working against the violence against women
  • Massages. I had a massage this morning that would have rivalled any massage therapist in Canada. I've also had one in Mexico and the entire process is almost identical. Kenya was my first massage ever that massaged my stomach. Once I got used to it, it was okay - though when she was finished I was hungry and really had to pee…
  • The need/desire to gather over a warm cup of just about anything. Barton would argue it's an industry geared towards addiction. I would argue it's geared towards the closeness and comfort it brings to sit with a friend with a warm cup in your hands. The caffeine content matters not. Cafes and patisseries all over the world provide this for you, often surrounded by cozy book shelves or trendy art work or local antiques. Here it is just as common and comforting to gather in the living room mid afternoon for a cup of tea with whomever is available. Especially on these "cold Kenyan winter days" :)
  •  Sports and games. It brings people together. From the acknowledging nod when you pass someone wearing your team's hat to the friendly ribbing at someone supporting your rival, sports break the ice and somehow make you more comfortable making conversation with a stranger. Nothing has brought out the kids on this campus and broken the ice and cultural divides like the frisbee, lacrosse sticks and bubble wands that we brought here did. It was magical!! Our first day here Nikolai marched down a Kenyan street vendor alley proudly wearing an Arsenal jersey… only to discover it would seem Kenyans are Chelsea fans! He experienced the cheers, friendly taunts and shouts of "Karibo Kenya!" (welcome to Kenya!) and a whole lot of unexpected attention. It was quite hummurous and it would seem as though the young men quite enjoyed it. It freaked him out a little, but was pretty funny. 
  • Pastry. Why is it so good - anywhere you go??
  • American Music. You can't escape Fun or Pink
  • News reporters - they sound the same everywhere
  • Teachers strike 

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