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Q is for Questions

June 1, 2013

Understandably, some of the members of my community are confused why a white girl from a country far away is living in Ampondralava for 2 years. I have gotten asked lots of questions in the past 2 weeks while meandering through my village, and expect that I will get asked more in my coming 2 years. Some of them take me completely by surprise. Some are silly. Some make me sad. All of them reflect how my Malagasy neighbors see the world. This is a list of some of my favorite mini conversations so far:

1. Neighbor: Are you married, because you should have a husband.

Me:  I have a serious boyfriend who lives in America.

N: You need to have a husband here too. Your boyfriend will never know.

Me: No, I’m good thanks. It’s American custom to only have one boyfriend at a time.

N: (raucous laughter) You only have 1 boyfriend at a time, who lives far away!?? HAHAHAHA


2. N: Do they eat rice where you’re from?

Me: Yes, Americans eat rice, though not everyday.

N: What do you eat if you don’t eat rice?

Me: We eat lots of flour, like in bread, noodles, and other things.

N: (weird look)


3. N: Are you from China?

Me: No.


4. N: Do you speak English English or American English?

Me: There is only one English. There are 2 different accents, but English is only one language, like French. (this is a difficult concept for Malagasy to grasp- understandably so because Madagascar has 18 different ethnic tribes with about as many different languages on an island that easily fits into only part of America.)

5. N: Do you have children? (notice the plural)

Me: No, in America we wait to have children until we are done with school and have work.

N: How old are you?

Me: 25.

N: And you don’t have children? You are too old.

Me: (awkward laughter as I’m thinking holyshitholyyshitholyshit 25 IS NOT OLD! And simultaneously forgetting the word for young)


As funny as I some of these questions are, especially when I get them several times a day from different people, I’m sure that there are questions I ask my Malagasy community that they find equally as bizarre. I am sort of like a very overgrown toddler, walking around pointing at things and mumbling  random strings of words, so my question asking ability needs to greatly improve before I will be able to share my equally bizarre questions to my community and their reactions.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jarie Castelin permalink
    June 1, 2013 22:56

    Kim! Your writing is refreshing!Your analogy about being a toddler is so true about learning the language. Hopefully, some of the people you come in contact with will begin to realize the world has many different approaches to life. Your patience and your personality w have a huge effect as in what you do, how you treat people. They w aee that. Hugs to you, Jarie


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