Yesterday, while writing the date and topic on the board as always, I paused and had to check my watch for the date. One student, trying to be helpful, yelled out “SEX!”
Today a bunch of girls were hanging out in front of my house and at one point Margarida pretended that she was crying. Her 7 year old sister said to her, “don’t pretend cry. When a child fakes crying, one of her mother’s breast gets cut off!” “EXCUSE me???” I responded. “What?” she responded, surprised, “you’ve never heard that before?” I verified with one of the sisters later—yes, apparently that is a saying here. She explained that it’s used to scare the children from fake crying—“because nobody wants to see their mother with only one breast right?”
A lot of people at home ask me about Mozambicans’ reactions to world events. But sadly, often there is no reaction because nobody reads the news or has TVs here, so they aren’t aware of the uprising in Egypt or the unrest in Libya. But everybody heard about Bin Laden. And since I am American, everyone wanted me to verify that the news was true. One colleague asked me, “are you Americans happy now that he was killed?” I told him that I couldn’t speak for all Americans, but I didn’t think it was good to be happy when anyone died.
Last week I met two Swazi guys and they brought up the royal wedding. They couldn’t get over the fact that both parties had invited ex-boyfriends and girlfriends to the wedding. “I just don’t understand your culture!” one of them said to me. (Ditto, I thought.) I pointed out that they are British whereas Erin and I are American…so not exactly OUR culture. “Oh, but all…” he responded, with a wave of his arm.
Yesterday I got to talk to Irmã Albertina for a long time and 9/11 came up. She laughed when I told her I was in 9th grade when it happened. She told me about how she was studying as a novice in Rome at the time and was riding on a train when some American tourists, thinking she was American or spoke English, ran up to her and began asking “is it true?? Did you hear??” It’s incredible to think that even halfway around the world, a non-American can say where they were and what they were doing on 9/11.