Dual Identities

27 Jun

When you live abroad you represent your home community. But sometimes, some things just can’t be explained. Either there is no point of reference or my version of that label is just not the same.  A conversation can dispel many of these misconceptions, but here are a few points of identity lost in translation:

In America- Protestant– In Ethiopia- Christian, catholic, pagan, jewish?

In America – American, Canadian —  In Ethiopia – Israeli, British, American?

In America – Female — In Ethiopia- Foreigner

In America – Liberal — In Ethiopia – let’s agree to disagree…

In America – Student poor — In Ethiopia – Rich

In America – Single — In Ethiopia- maybe I’m married? Yes, I’m married. As far as you’re concerned, I’m married.

In America – no kids — In Ethiopia – I think I want 6, starting next year

In America – Hi — In Ethiopia – Hello hello hello hello hello hello, Is it peace?

In America – Peace Corps Volunteer — In Ethiopia – Doctor? Teacher? Bank? Souk?

In America – adventurous foodie — In Ethiopia – Do you know what injera is? No, I’ve only lived here almost a year.

In America – Wino — In Ethiopia – No, I don’t drink… that.

In America – medium, pleasantly plump — In Ethiopia – FAT, but it’s a compliment

In America – I have freckles — In Ethiopia – I have disease

In America – tall — In Ethiopia – Amazonian

This isn’t to say all Ethiopians have these perceptions of me, but these are real questions I get at least a few times a month from people of all walks of life.

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