What does a cow say?? The question brings memories flooding back. A little red toy barn complete with a set of farm animals. When you opened the door there was the sound of a cow, ‘moo!’ I remember the times I was suppose to be taking a nap in my room and played with my farm instead, trying to stifle the ‘moo’ as I opened the door to let the animals out of the barn so mom wouldn’t hear. (Yes, mom, I did that….) Or there was the toy that had a wheel you spun and correctly matched the sound it made with the animal. ‘Moo!’ said the cow. For the last 26 years cows have always said ‘moo,’ whether they were real or just toys. Cows don’t ‘moo’ anymore. They ‘maa.’ “Cows don’t even say ‘moo’ here!!” I found myself retorting when discovering this fact.
I have been slowly learning that everything here is different then the world I grew up in. Cows don’t say ‘moo.’ When you get hurt you don’t say ‘ouch.’ The appropriate response is ‘ahy!’ (that’s right, just like a pirate!!) Instead of haha, you say heyhey, and the list goes on. Learning a whole new way of looking at the world and responding to it often feels like an uphill battle. Many days I find myself going to bed wondering if I made any progress that day. Was I any more ‘Malagasy’ today then I was yesterday? Is my vocabulary any bigger? Did I understand more? Could I participate more?
This last week was an eye opener. Janet Walker arrived on Wednesday. She will be helping to teach an Instructor of Teachers 2 training here this month. I figured I would be thrilled to death being free to speak English with another native speaker. I thought I’d love meeting the other English trainers and trainees. To my great shock, it was just the opposite. I was far more comfortable just hanging out with the Malagasy family who I have grown to love and who accept me despite the color of my skin and the plethora of cultural and language blunders I make. I found myself talking to the English speakers in Malagasy by accident. Given the choice, I preferred to be with my Malagasy family and speak Malagasy rather then speak English and try to fit back into the culture I left behind. Today I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am a little more Malagasy today then I was yesterday. My vocabulary is a little bigger. I understood and was able to participate a little bit more. Even though I am still working at learning the culture and the language, and far from being fluent at either, I must confess it brought a smile to my face to hear on several occasions my Malagasy family tell one of the English speakers, “She’s Malagasy.”
|Janet arrived with a few free days before the training started, so on Friday, several of the boys and I took her to the zoo.|