Saturday, September 23, 2006


The Guyanese are really frank and candid when it comes to speaking. What Americans might perceive as monstrosities are actually just their style and manner of speaking. Most of the time, there’s no need to take offense. Here are a few examples of how their brutal honesty has come across to me or other volunteers:

Student: Wow Miss! You’re very sweaty. Your back is soaked with sweat. How come you’re always so sweaty everyday?
[Ok, so I look like I just jumped in the creek.]

Student: Miss, why do you wear your (button-down) shirt tucked in your skirt?
Me: Don’t you think it looks nicer this way?
Student: I don’t like it. You shouldn’t wear the same thing every day. You should wear more dresses.
[Ok, so I have bad fashion sense.]

Teacher: I can tell you slept well last night because your cheeks are fat today.
[Ok, so I ate a lot of carbs yesterday.]

Neighbor: Hey, you look fat in that shirt.
[Fine, I’ll lay off the carbs.]

Student: Are you and Miss Nadia sisters?
(Miss Nadia, my roommate and other volunteer at my school, is Hispanic. She has brown hair and blue eyes, but she looks pretty white for all intents and purposes.)
Me: No, do you think we look alike?
Student: Oh, then are you her mother?
[Ok, so I look old.]

Man on the street (referring to the recent break-outs we’ve had due to the heat and dirt): Did a lot of mosquitoes bite your faces?
[Ok, so we’ll scrub our faces again when we get home.]

Fight count: 31.

To keep my sanity I stopped counting the fights after a Form 4 student (a sophomore/junior) spit on a Form 1 student (a 7th grader), then punched him because he felt like it. When I tried to talk to him about it, he laughed in my face. When I tried to punish him (by NOT beating him like most teachers would have), he ran away. Yup, this is what I left my fabulously air-conditioned job in Manhattan for.

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