How does a Kenyan in America behave?
The other day I realized that when it comes to adjusting to the American culture, I take the “kicking and screaming” lane – ungracious, overly critical, super sensitive, remarkably adolescent in thought and action.
(if you are wondering about the Kenyan in American link, please read our story here)
Anyway, the more I thought about my unpleasant attitudes, the more I realized that some of us tend to pursue our life/marriage goals the same way.
But a few steps into the journey, we encounter the pain of dreaming.
And that’s when many engage fight mode – we fight the process, dwell on the pains and angst of it, point fingers; we become everything but gracious, grown-up, focused, learning.
We struggle to accept that the main part of “success” is what we become in the journey, not what we achieve in the end.
When you are on the throes of change and culture shock, it might feel easier to compare, criticize, day dream.
Whether you are a Kenyan in America or not, I think most of us have a Jonah inside us – brooding, unrelenting, furious that our “dreams” didn’t pan out the way we expected.
Do YOU struggle with change?
You know you are a Kenyan in America when..
1. You expect the store (supermarket) attendant to walk the entire floor, looking for a product you couldn’t find.
2. You race across pedestrian crossings.
3. Everyone seems to talk into your face (most Americans love eye contact.)
4. You expect the two guys loudly airing their views to settle the argument with bare fists.
5. You think you can jump the red light because the roads are empty (who waits at a red light in the middle of the night!?)
6. You are shell-shocked when a perfect stranger shares the story of their life within two minutes of meeting.
7. Neat lawns make you think about business opportunities – weddings, functions e.t.c
8. You walk into Home Depo looking for bugler proof doors and windows.
9. You keep breaking down the cost of life and items to Kenya shillings.
10. You go to the barbers and expect a shampoo, hair and beard work, massage, tea/coffee e.t.c – for a single (and cheap) price.
11. You avoid the “police car” even when you’ve done nothing wrong.
12. You want to offer a “helping hand” to the parents of that child having a meltdown at the toys section.
13. Statements like “Do you know Albert? He’s from Africa too” no longer aggravate you.
14. You like guessing which part of Kenya an African-America “hails” from.
Recently, my friend Jan, shared her perspective as an American who loves Kenya.
Without further ado…
You know you are an American in Kenya when..
1. You consistently step off the curb into traffic forgetting the traffic flow direction.
2. You get that deer in the headlight look at Matatu (public bus) boarding stations.
3. You just want to pay the price marked on the item for sale and be done with it. (Kenyans love a good bargain!)
4. You’ve said Jambo (hello) so often you repeat it on your sleep.
5. You are constantly surrounded by kids who wants to touch you and stare with extended hands.
6. You wonder why in the world traffic is stopped at green lights and proceeds on red lights.
7. You stare at a motorbikes carrying four people and a mattress.
8. You find it unusual that giraffes and lions roam the landscape outside a major city.
9. You cringe every time two Kenyans greet each other with a hand slap that sounds like an explosion.
10. You are longing to return to this beautiful land before your return flight even leaves the tarmac.
Question – Have you ever lived in a different culture than your own? What did you learn?
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