As I spend more time in this country, I begin to find new cultural differences and more clearly see parts of my own culture. Last June, if you asked me to tell you about my culture, I was at a loss. I couldn’t define many things from my own culture…country music, American cheese, being on time….that’s about all I had. It’s not something I thought about. Ask me now, and I could probably write a book. Actually, if I print out my blog, I’m pretty sure it’s book length by now. 🙂
As I integrate more and more into Tswana and South African culture, I notice things that I do/say/believe/etc that are not universal and are uniquely American. Heck, even the way I stand in front of a class is different. Partially because teachers don’t stand a whole lot.
One thing that I recently realized had been bugging me, and for quite awhile without my knowledge, was kids snapping fingers. Kids raise their hand in class here (sometimes) to answer a question, and if they really want to answer, they snap their fingers. For the past few months, this has been angering me and I purposely didn’t call on those kids. I kept telling them not to snap their fingers and got very easily irritated. I realized this week that it’s one of those cultural differences.
I talked it over with my principal, and snapping fingers is a way to tell the teacher you know the answer and want to be called on. It’s not rude at all. While talking with my principal, I could see by her expression that she had no idea what I meant when I said it was rude. I tried to explain how offensive it was to me, and that’s when I realized it is purely a cultural difference.
I’m not sure I can just “turn of the switch” and accept the snapping fingers without being offended. But I won’t let it bother me anymore, and maybe I’ll even call on those kids!