“And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time
The greatest gift they'll get this year is life
Where nothing ever grows
No rain or rivers flow
Do they know it's Christmas time at all?”
This song cracks me up every time I hear it on the radio.
The sad truth is that the average American really doesn’t know much about Africa and hence has absolutely no clue how to talk to me. This always results in many awkward conversations when I come home which leave me and my friend/acquaintance both staring our feet in uncomfortable silence.
So I have compiled a few tips to keep in mind when trying to talk to me and to help you get the conversation started:
- First of all, in case you forgot what I do, I volunteer with YWAM and lead an English Language School for pastors and missionaries and young people. Although we are based in South Africa, most of my students are not in fact Africans.
- Contrary to popular belief there are not wild animals wandering around the streets, and I no longer live in a hut in the bush bush. I certainly don’t live in luxury, but I do in fact have running water and electricity.
- I talk funny. I know. After so many years of living with second-language English speakers, you would to. Please do not mistake my poor word choice and mangled sentences as a lack of intelligence. Despite my kindergarten-level vocabulary, I do in fact have a University degree.
- Ask me about my students, I LOVE to talk about my students.
- I’m about two years behind the mainstream and do not get most pop culture references. I don’t have a TV and most of the time watch/listen to whatever people give me. (Suggestions are welcome!)
- Just because I don’t live here, does not mean that I detest America. On the contrary, I love it. I surely don’t think we are God’s gift to mankind, but I’m pretty proud to be an American and I know the privilege it is to carry a passport that says USA.
- I am much more materialistic than you think. I probably care more about fashion than most of my friends. And although most of my life can be condensed into several suitcases, I still seem to spend way too much money on clothes.
- Don’t ask me when I’m coming home for good. I don’t know.
- If you’re wondering if I could meet up with your friend who lives in Johannesburg, the answer is no. South Africa is really big. That’s like asking me to meet someone in Kansas City for lunch.
- When all else fails, talk about yourself. I am genuinely interested in you and your life. In fact I’m probably a little bit envious.
And by the way, Bono, you're right, they may not have any snow, but I’m pretty sure they still know it’s Christmas in Africa.