{Post by the husband} This is Zambia: My Neighbor’s Challenge

January 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

World Vision Field Visit

Us ourselves, we are discovering that Zambians are less direct than Americans.  Allow me to explain.

In America, we don’t like to “beat around the bush”.  If we have a problem with someone, the most respected way to deal with that problem is to confront the person face to face and share what the challenge is.  Of course we don’t always do that in America – thus the occasional gossip (but never by me of course). However, directness is something we generally strive for.

In Zambia, we have discovered that people are often much less direct.  That is because in Zambia, saving face is very important.  In social interactions, it is important to make every effort to preserve each party’s dignity.  Thus, even if the other party has somehow wronged you, calling them out on it is discouraged and may not elicit the desired result.

This “saving face” also affects how business is done by World Vision Zambia.  During the first two weeks of January, I had the privilege of visiting several of our programs in the Southern Region of Zambia.  As part of my visit, another colleague and I had the assignment of confronting an issue that has presented a difficulty to many World Vision Zambia staff.  While at each program, meetings were called and all staff members were assembled.  Pretty soon, I was sitting at a table with 30 or so wonderful Zambian co-workers and after some pleasantries and introductions, I shared about the difficulty faced by many of them and asked if they can explain why the difficulty exists.  Predictably, complete silence.

Taking my growing knowledge of Zambian culture, I tried another tactic: “Well, perhaps you aren’t faced by this challenge.  But perhaps it is something that your neighbor is struggling with.  Can you please share what your neighbor’s challenge is?”  The room erupted in laughter.  And pretty soon, for the next ten minutes, I finally start getting answers to the question as Zambian after Zambian answered: “Me myself, I am not having a problem.  But my neighbor’s challenge is…”  Every time a person would share in this manner, we all would laugh, because we all realized it was a cover for sharing one’s own challenge.  But we did learn a lot, and the dignity of each person was preserved.

Advertisements

Tagged: , , , , ,

§ One Response to {Post by the husband} This is Zambia: My Neighbor’s Challenge

  • […] {Post by the husband} This is Zambia: My Neighbor’s Challenge (lauramenenberg.wordpress.com) 6.492155 3.372822 Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_bg", "fcf5f5"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_border", "eeeeee"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_text", "000000"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_link", "600600"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_url", "600600"); GA_googleAddAttr("LangId", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Autotag", "technology"); GA_googleAddAttr("Autotag", "politics"); GA_googleAddAttr("Autotag", "business"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "advocacy-development"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "governance-politics"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "world-politics"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "africa"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "african-development-bank"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "economy-zambia"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "new-york"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "rwanda"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "transparency-international"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "world-bank"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "zambia"); GA_googleFillSlot("wpcom_below_post"); Help us tell others:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Categories: Advocacy & Development, Governance & Politics, World Politics | Tags: Africa, African Development Bank, Economy Zambia, New York, Rwanda, Transparency International, World Bank, Zambia | Leave a comment […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading {Post by the husband} This is Zambia: My Neighbor’s Challenge at Laura Menenberg.

meta

%d bloggers like this: