Sunday, September 18, 2011

Engager La Communité

I realize that the Peace Corps is all about cross-cultural exchange. For example, I get a lot of shouts of 'Ni Ho' or of people saying I am Japanese or Chinese or even of kids acting out kung fu moves. Such is life for an Asian American volunteer in Cameroon. I realize however that I have to engage the community. So in the above example, I need to respond. Responses could be 'Pensez-vous que je suis japonais ou chinois' (Do you think I am Japanese or Chinese) ou 'Pensez-vous que tous les gens d Asie savent kung fu?' Its an opportunity for cross cultural exchange and to teach them about the Philippines and that not all Asians are Chinese or Japanese.
Another thing I realize about life in Cameroon is that one has to be assertive. Par example, I went to dinner with several trainees but the food they brought us was cold. Peace Corps has advised us to always make sure that the food we eat at restaurants is hot. It was especially bad for me because I had ordered pork which has the greatest risk of carrying parasites if not properly cooked. My fellow trainees ate only the rice and avoided the meat. Me and another trainee however decided to eat the food. We didn't get sick but others later told us that we should've said: 'Pouvez-vous réchauffer la nourriture, s'il vous plait? Si ce n'est pas possible, nous ne pouvons pas manger et nous devons laisser sans payer?. Translated as: Could you heat the food, please? If its not possible, then we cannot eat the food and we have to leave without paying.

8 comments:

kayni said...

i think it's best to be on the safe side next time and have it heated. although i understand that sometimes we don't want to offend other people.

Daphn3 LaurA said...

Yeah I know what you mean about people assuming that all Asians are either Chinese or Japanese. It seems your French is improving tremendously ha! Good for you and do be more assertive! I can't believe you ate that meat. Ewwww :D

René C. Reyes said...

Remember, thick skin. I didn't always have it while I was there, but you'll get it. Peace, brother.

Ping-i said...

Kayni, my colleagues think its best to not eat cold food. If the restaurant owner gets offended, 'c'est la vie' daw.

Daphne, i'm just glad i didn't get a tapeworm. lol

Thanks, Caloy.

lalaine said...

What caloy said -- it's also true for my experience in North Africa where I was never American, just permutations of all types Asian but never Filipino at that. Thick skin helped, learning when to ignore also helped. Interesting the differences in areas in the need for assertiveness in certain situations. Here, the opposite behaviors are more acceptable -- pakikisama and next to no assertive behavior. Take care and good luck!

bing said...

cold pork meat. ewww really! hubby will definitely be mad about poor service. though i guess it would be totally different when you are in a different country. :-D

bw said...

the habits of people every part of the world differ that's for sure. I always think that the food I pay for in the restaurant is freshly cooked and I'm expecting it to be hot !

Ping-i said...

Merci, lalaine!

bing, your hubby would do well here in Cameroon! :D

Agreed, ,bw.