Farahani talked about how hard it has been for him to get used to how many things we have here and how much we take for granted. He told students many stories and how the hardest thing for him was seeing the large number of things Americans have and thinking about how many people are in such need in his home country. Many of the stories he told helped open the eyes of my students. Here are some of the stories that stood out to them and to me.
He told students about was how difficult it is to go to an American restaurant and get a menu. He described how it requires intense studying just to decide what to eat in America, and how once you decide there are twenty questions until you fully order……How would you like it cooked? What do you want on the side? What type of dressing do you want?........In his country the menu is one side with only a few options and there is no alternative to what is written. Beans and rice is beans with rice. Chicken Fried is fried chicken. When asked how he would like his chicken (original, spicy, mild) his first thought was “Which one means dead?”
He talked about how difficult it can be to drive in America. In Tanzania there are only a few stop lights, and all roads are one lane roads. Here there are so many stop lights, stop signs, lanes, streets and cars. He told students that driving for him was like sitting through a really difficult math class that you couldn’t fully figure out what to do and you had to pay attention to so many things that eventually you just don’t want to do it anymore.
He discussed with them how difficult it can be in America because very few people talk to you and it can seem like a very unfriendly place. In Tanzania everyone talks to their neighbors and knows everything about everyone through lots of conversation on the street, in town, at home, at school, everywhere. He told them how when he first came to the US he spent most of his time in his apartment because very few people talked to him and it did not seem ok to go knock on people’s doors and talk to them. He explained how in Tanzania it is perfectly ok to walk down the street and talk to a little kid or a complete stranger where in America if you start talking to a little kid people think you are kidnapping them and a stranger walks away from you quickly thinking you are crazy.
Through this visit it reminded me how different cultures exist in the world and it is sometimes so hard to merge them together. Had Farahani not told my students about these differences they might not have known how different our culture can seem to others. Maybe through his conversation and his sharing of his experience they will be more open to those with different backgrounds. I know that after this week together our cultures definitely collided and although Farahani and I did not see eye to eye on all matters we are better friends now because we tried to understand each other.
I cannot wait to set out on this next adventure and see how different life can be. After this very difficult year I am ready for a new adventure full of new ways of life, new cultures, and the chance to meet different people. Though are cultures will surely collide and it will be difficult for me at times. I am excited how that collision will change me as a person.