Friday, January 13, 2012

About Water

Something really quick about water. Of course I have to write about water.

My students had an in-class assignment where they were supposed to register email accounts and email me one message. Just to let you know, this assignment has yet to go well - it seems that most of my students are completely computer illiterate and many of their English is less than stellar. But for those who have been able to email me, the assignment asked them to write 5 sentences about them, and 2 questions for me. I had a lot of questions that were similar, such as my marital status, how many children/parents I have, what do I feel about Rwanda so far, and (my favorite surprise question), why am I big? Clearly there are some cultural differences here.

But I was finding it odd that many of them kept asking me the question, "Why do you like water?" I found this odd - I didn't really think anything about my bringing in my water bottle and taking a sip during class. Water is such a normal part of my life, and is such a common occurence in the US, that I really didn't know what to think about this question.

A day or two ago, I was talking to my housemates about this question, and they definitely gave me a clearer understanding of what happened.

Apparently water is considered the drink of the poor in Rwanda. It is what people drink when there's absolutely nothing else around, like milk or Fanta or Coca Cola. Or tea, or coffee. Prosper explained to me how if he goes to someone's house, they'll ask him if he wants a drink. If he says, "Water" (because he's pretty different from most Rwandese), they look at him and say, "But isn't there anything else that you want to drink??"

I guess my students feel like it's strange for their American teacher, who is supposed to be so wealthy because she's foreign, to drink the poor man's beverage. I just love water.

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