Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The honeymoon had to end sometime

So the homestay is going to get harder before it gets easier, it seems. Lina is cute, but spoiled, and her brattiness is getting old quickly. She seems to think she has the right to anything she sees (translation: anything I'm holding) and has no problem going into my/her room to explore my belongings or even grabbing them right from my hand. If I refuse or take them away from her she starts tantruming. I'm learning some Arabic phrases today to discourage her...if her parents won't set the limits, I will, and I've already noticed that the Arabic "leh" has more effect than "no" so maybe broaching the linguistic barrier will help. We also got a hateful tirade from our host father last night about politics--how naïve we Americans are, how we believe Muslim stereotypes of terrorism that are ignorant, how the Jews are behind all of our politics, and are responsible for 9/11 and the war in Iraq...etc. Near the beginning I tried to divert him, but it became pretty clear that he was looking for an audience, not a discussion partner, and the fact that he was citing propaganda as truth made me realize that there was probably little I could do to change his opinions. The experience left me uncomfortable and Kate even moreso. We brought it up to the program leaders today, who have instructed us that next time we should just end the conversation when it starts, and gave us a number to call after hours if that doesn't work.

I'm determined to view this as a challenge, though, and an opportunity to let myself and my actions speak louder than the media when it comes to impressions of Americans. Inch'allah, maybe I can change some minds in the two months that I'll be here. Also, aside from political lectures, the family has been extremely hospitable, and the food is great--last night's dinner was a great Tunisian pepper salad called Mushiwya on bread, and a chicken and pea dish that reminded me of subsaharan african cuisine. Tonight is going to be some sort of Tunisian speciality involving spinach...mmmm!

And now, for the promised futbol summary:

After learning from a Mozambiquian guy from DC (small world, ain't it?) about the futbol match, me and a group of nine other CLS students climbed into our first Tunisian taxi (which was, like all others I have ridden in since then, a seatbelt-less, crappy-radioed, thrilling experience) and headed to the outskirts of town for the national Tunisia vs. Mozambique game. Women got in free--a little sexist, perhaps, but I was happy enough to save the five dinar. We decked out in headbands and Tunisian flags and did our best to follow along in the foreign chants, much to the delight of the Tunisians around us, who offered us commentary, snacks, and--in my case--phone numbers (from the taxi driver, then the widowed dad behind the cute Tunisian boy in this photo--I need to figure out an action plan for these sorts of situations.) It was cool to see Tunisian women and children cheering alongside the men (I see them much less frequently then men in public here), and curious to see tea and bread vendors instead of beer and hotdogs. Overall, a ton of fun, and I think we're going to try and make the next game in a few weeks.


  1. Indoctrination is an interesting concept and your blog illustrates what a powerful tool it is in terms of how it can be used to inform our concepts of "truth"

  2. I'm glad you are looking at the uncomfortable bits in such a positive light becca! I hope you do leave them with a different viewpoint on the world, even if they can't accept it at least you can expose them to it!