Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thinking Like a Nigerian

My Grandma had major heart surgery in Rochester, MN in June. My mom, dad, aunt and uncle were at the hospital before, during, and after the surgery. But within a day or two, they started to go to their respective homes (about 1.5 hours away and about 6 hours away). I was horrified. I said, "But who's going to stay with Grandma?!"

My mom gently explained that what they were doing was acceptable. They didn't need to be with her 24/7. And moreover, my Grandma really didn't need constant company if she was going to get adequate rest. I understood what she was saying, but I still felt a twinge of guilt that someone wasn't sitting with Grandma.

In this area of my thinking, I have become very Nigerian. If you are hospitalized in Nigeria, you have to bring someone to take care of you--especially for your feeding and your bathing. It is just expected that a family member is always present. In general, there are a lot of people around who are not necessarily working and can take the time to be in the hospital with a patient.

In a similar vein, as I was making various presentations this past summer, I occasionally noticed that I was using some Nigerian terminology, and I couldn't think of how to express that thought in American English. For example, I would mention that the MF youth ministry trains youth on computers, and then they are able to get a small job with those skills. "Small job" didn't sound right in the U.S. At least I didn't say "small-small job" which would have been very obviously Nigerian. As I'm thinking about it now, I could have said, "Youth are able to get part-time or entry-level jobs with these computer skills."

I can tell I've been here a long time!

1 comment:

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Yes, surely a difference in the hospital care. I know in Uganda, if the family can't be there, who would take care of the person? But here, if you are in the hospital, you have nursing care (are SUPPOSED TO have nursing care, that can vary) and you maybe don't really want company right after a surgery because you feel so bad. And they send you home relatively quickly.

I've wondered how you manage with the culture shock you must feel going back and forth. Do you think judgmental thoughts often or do you just accept lots of things as just being the way they are?