Friday, 14 October 2016

Different Worlds

At the moment I feel a bit like I have two lives, one British and one Zambian. There are so many things that I love about both of them, but it can be difficult going from one life to the other. When heading back home to the UK or returning to Zambia, the prospect of catching up with lots of people who I'll see is exciting but at the same time means leaving others behind and missing out on things that are happening in their lives. 

At Heathrow with my sisters, preparing to leave for Zambia

Living in a culture so different from my own has challenged my thinking, and I hope it has also changed my perspective on some things. It has made me realise how my world view is heavily influenced by the British culture, environment and way of thinking, as well as my own experiences of growing up there. In fact, my world view is very different to that of people living in different countries such as Zambia.

Children growing up with a different world view to mine

In the UK we highly value honesty and integrity, even if not everyone lives it out. We believe in democracy and freedom of speech. People are expected to be tolerant and accepting. These are positive things and since being away I have certainly developed a greater appreciation for being British (although I still don't drink tea!). My British friends and I love any excuse to gather and celebrate events here, such as the Queen's birthday, Wimbledon, the Olympics, St George's Day. In fact we probably celebrate some of them more than we would if we had been at home!

Celebrating the Queen's birthday

People here seem very proud to be Zambian. I have learned to sing the Zambian national anthem with them! There is a strong sense of community among people, which is something we seem to have lost a bit in the UK. People here make time for others and respect is highly valued. However, on the other hand there is a huge amount of bribery and corruption. In many situations that occur it's hard to know what the real truth is because information is not readily communicated. There is also a lot of fear here. And many things here still surprise me because they seem unfair or wrong according to the way I think. Ideas, customs and social behaviours in my British and Zambian lives are very different, and that's mainly because our thinking is so different.

On Zambian Independence Day last year

One of the things I've seen to be very different here compared to the UK is peoples' belief about God. It is widely accepted in Zambia that people believe in the God of the Bible. I think the belief that there is a God who is greater than we can imagine comes partly from the humility that people here have about themselves and their view of humanity. They understand that we are small, which in the grand scheme of life, we are. Perhaps it is the high mortality rate and shorter life expectancy that accentuate this. People seem to accept that our minds cannot understand all there is about life and death.

Visiting one of the bush churches

In the UK we are a small nation who are used to having a fairly large amount of influence in relation to our size. We are very fortunate to have excellent healthcare, education and on average, a very good standard of living. It can be very easy to look down on people who have less than us and think that we know better. But none of us have got it altogether, even if we try and present things as if we have. I think we can learn a lot from trying to see things from someone else's perspective, whether that be someone in the UK or in another country far, far away. 

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