It was one of the first weeks in my village, and I was still trying to figure the simple things out: the school schedule, the path through the veldt to work, and how in the world I would teach kids who didn’t speak a word of English. I was at one of my schools, and I knew something was up. The principal had accidentally dropped a hint that something would happen the day before, and some of the teachers were acting squirrely.
Towards the end of the school day, I was loaded into a vehicle and driven to the next village over, Tlakgameng. My village was too small to merit a tribal council, so we used the one in Tlakgameng. And it turned out that today they would be holding a welcoming ceremony for me and the volunteer in Tlakgameng.
After waiting a long while for the council members to arrive and decorate the gathering hall (because, this is Africa), we were finally allowed in. The hall was full of teachers, our principals, our host families, and several learners from the secondary school (that neither of us worked at).
There were a number of speeches, and a traditional dance performed by the students, which was incredible. Then I was asked to stand and greet the audience. In Setswana.
Now, public speaking doesn’t really bother me. But making a speech in a language I’ve studied for less than 8 weeks does. Somehow, I bumbled my way through it, and everyone in the room was delighted to hear me speak in Setswana.
Then I was asked to dance.
This girl doesn’t dance.
But when you join a new village and start to become part of a new culture, sometimes you have to put your reservations
and pride aside and shake it out. So that’s what I did. It’s just part of joining in with something new.
And you know what? Nobody could believe that white girl could dance so well!
Of course, I avoiding dancing as much as possible. It’s just not my thing. 🙂