Here is the most recent update from our Awesome Possum summer intern, Kelley. I hope you read with as much enthusiasm as I did:
These last few weeks have felt more like the beginning of an awkward middle school relationship than anything. Uganda and I really really like each other. From the moment we met, we’ve been flirting and laughing almost nonstop. It’s been fantastic. However, when we sit down to talk, we’re both fumbling around to find common ground. There are so many barriers that prevent that connection that I know is there. Somewhere. Usually we just end up sitting across from one another smiling and laughing like two giddy eighth graders.
My time with the Sseko girls has quite accurately captured this journey for understanding.
I’ve spent numerous hours with these girls and I love every minute of it. We talk and laugh and have a wonderful time together. But those walls are still there. Miles of Atlantic Ocean and a few hundred years of history have sort of influenced the places we’ve grown up. We’re different. There are so many things that I don’t understand about them.
Case in point: how four girls can share a room and not fight. I pressed Mary for a good twenty minutes when it was just the two of us, trying to get the juicy details and she just laughed and gave a very Mary sort of response, “I’ve learned to value these girls as much as I value myself. When you do that, you have no reason to fight.” (I couldn’t help but have a flashback to a freshman year fiasco while she was talking- it might have been over clothes or maybe it was high heels?) They can’t fathom a room to themselves; I can’t fathom sharing everything my entire life. Entitlement meets selflessness. I’ve never been more aware of the influence of American ideals on my life as they meet a very different set of standards. Not everyone lives like we do. It’s funny that I had to come halfway around the world to believe it.
Breaking down those walls takes time. That connection is there. I see glimpses of it when we laugh about the same things (which is usually at my expense while attempting to peel matoke or do the kaganda dance or sing a heartfelt version of Total Eclipse of the Heart). Maybe you can never knock down cultural barriers, but I bet you can climb over them and meet in the middle, which I think we’re doing…and I’m really excited.