I Have Yet to Be Electrocuted

I have yet to be electrocuted. I don’t say this because Rwanda doesn’t have electricity, because it most definitely does in almost all parts of the city. I rather say it as a clever way to engage the reader to learn about my experiences with culture “shock” (I think my English teachers would call this a “hook” and a successful one at that).

People warned me about culture shock for this experience. Even though I knew very little about where I was going or what I would be doing, I was still prepared to experience a different lifestyle. Sure, the culture has been a challenging adjustment but that is what it is: cultural adjustment. Sometimes adjusting myself is difficult, like engaging in a conversation that I only understand a couple words of. Of course I would love to engage like I do in English, but I cannot say that I am surprised that people in Rwanda speak the language that they were born with. It would be selfish of me to think they should speak English all the time just for me. That would make it their adjustment, rather than mine. So, I adjust. I engage in the conversation by picking up words that I have learned in class or looking at the way in which the members of the conversation engage non-verbally. I am getting more out of that adjustment than I would with an English conversation anyway.

I personally haven’t experienced shock. I believe my preparation to understand that I am entering into a culture that is not my own and I must adjust to better understand and live within it, has made my time here less shocking. Maybe that has made my experience electric, but I have certainly not been electrocuted.


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