Once a week I teach a class of Form 3 (grade 11) students at the Girls’ Secondary School outside of Rumbek. I always look forward to this time because, even though I prepare lessons to teach them about conflict transformation, non-violence, and trauma, I really am the one who learns the most in our times together. These girls can give me a unique perspective into their culture.
Recently we talked about cultural differences and the majority of the class time was filled with their questions to me about “Canadian” (or, my) perspective on marriage, children, and schooling. It was a great learning opportunity for them. Many of them could not understand why a couple would get married without the intention of having children soon after. They started to try to convince me I was wrong in my understanding of what marriage was intended to be. This was where, I pointed out to them, cultural differences can cause conflict. As I went home that day I again marveled at the vast cultural differences I have seen.
The following week one of the students started complaining about a headache in class. “That is too bad,” I said, “but let me teach you some acupressure points to help your pain”. All the girls groaned at my attempt to again (I do this to them almost every class when we talk about trauma) teach them some holistic healing mumbo-jumbo.
“But can’t I just leave?” The student asked with a sigh and rolled eyes.
And in that question teenage girls across the world crossed all cultural differences to join forces against the adults that make them do silly and embarrassing things that they know they are much to cool for.