Friday, August 29, 2008

Get Your Fight Face On

Some days it feels like everything out here takes work, that a person has to fight with everyone for anything. We often call it getting your fight face on. When you have to bargain hard, or push your way through. It takes fight. My friends and I have always valued running interference for each other. That means when approaching a task that we know is going to take a lot of fight we always try to go in groups of two. Even if the second person doesn’t have much language skills yet, they can stand behind you shaking their head and scowling with the fight face in place. It seems that is the only way to be successful. This week I had a cultural eureka moment. It was like a light bulb went on in my head. A girl was telling me the majority people group out here values strength and determination. When you are ready to put up a fight for your rights you are demonstrating both of these characteristics and therefore are more likely to be successful at your task.
Even though I have had to put on my fight face hundreds of times since living out here I am still not very good at it. I feel bad being so mean. In fact this week I even went back and apologized to a woman for my behaviour ( this was before my cultural discovery, and is completely unheard of in this culture, but I wanted to maintain a good relationship with her office) after which the woman saw me as weak and tried to bulldoze over me the rest of the week. I need to toughen up to live in a culture where meanness is applauded. In Canada we are known for being polite people who say sorry all the time, but that sort of attitude doesn’t always cut it out here.

The struggle comes in being culturally appropriate and standing firm, while trying to show love and kindness to my neighbours. To me wearing my fight face is not a good way to make friends.

1 comment:

Rachel Starr Thomson said...

I love that picture :). Following your stories, my friend. I love reading your blog.