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June 19, 2007


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tony sheng

great post!
i have this hand woven straw bag that was given to me from our hosts in cameroon last summer. every once in a while, i still take it out and put my nose in it and take a deep breath. it still barely smells like africa....


Wow, Lu, some tribute - thanks. To God be the glory. Some experiences have a way of getting under one's skin and changing the way we look at God, the world, and ourselves forever - and I'm blessed to have helped take you into such an experience.

I don't think you ever told me the story about getting out of the rickshaw! Yes, that does sound empowering. I think one of the hardest things for me cross-culturally is running into those situations again and again - the ones where you feel taken advantage of and really upset about it but just maybe you are wrong - never being able to trust your own instincts as much as you would in your home culture.

Yes, smells are powerful. My first cross-cultural experience, at 17, was Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which is a mighty pungent place. I can smell it now. Didn't help that in walking through the city to a restaurant on the first night I fell through a hole in the sidewalk - into the sewer, up to mid-calf. My canvas Keds were never the same.

At the end of July (if I ever buy my tickets) I'm going to the Balkans to write with and then debrief a team doing research there there now. There are some distinct down-sides to having an on-site debriefing but I'm really looking forward to the chance to have the team show me around, to see, hear, taste, smell the place!

Assuming the team survives. They have some challenges that are bigger than the ones yours faced, in terms of both team make-up (the TL's who live there and are only participating part-time, the couple with the two-year-old) and health. Last I heard S. had pinkeye, J. had serious enough bronchitis that they were crossing an international border to get her to the hospital, and C., who had come to the field with a mysterious digestive/bleeding problem, was scheduled for a colonoscopy yesterday. Ouch!

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