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Chipmunk

During law school I had the opportunity to spend three months in E. Africa. Clearly, my experiences and memories were nothing like yours. In many ways, I was just a tourist who was able to claim that he wasn't a tourist. Still, I learned a great deal and miss it often.

There are opportunities for attorneys there, especially those who have what appear to be your language skills.

Spicy

Fifteen years later, I too still dream of Africa... Great post.

Have you ever seen the file 'Mississippi Masala'? Although concerning another part of Africa, the scenes where the father dreams of Uganda resonates very deeply with me.

will

Very interesting. That sounds like a wonderful opportunity for you. I would like to hear more about it.

One of the benefits of the internet is to get the perspective of people outside our narrow area. But, of course, it does not come close to the experience of living in another place in vastly different culture.

TangoMan

When you were there were you aware of the Cameroonian practice of breast ironing? It "involves pounding and massaging the developing breasts of young girls with hot objects to try to make them disappear."

The Happy Feminist

No, I never heard of it. That's dreadful.

The Happy Feminist

Chipmunk, unfortunately my language skills are pretty thin. Many years ago, I could read and understand some very basic French, but, attending an American school, I was never totally immersed in it. And I only studied languages once I got to high school.

Chipmunk

How sad that you, with a truly global education fell victim to the common US problem of not being properly taught a second language. One of the things that impressed me when I attended a program in Canada was the fact that all of the Canadians I encountered were able to communicate with the francophones, even though they would claim that they were either unable to speak french, or were very bad at it. Experience has taught me that this doesn't apply to all of our friends in the North, but it shows, even with their own language issues, a recognition of the importance not to be limited by one language.

The Happy Feminist

No argument from me here.

When I lived in Africa, my parents wanted to enroll me in a French school so that I would really learn French. Unfortunately, the French school wouldn't take American students since we had our own school.

Weirdly, I got to be pretty good at having basic conversations in French with other non-native French speakers. Speaking French with a Chinese person or with an Italian was no problem. Understanding an actual French person, not so much.

The Happy Feminist

Oops, and I meant to say in my prior comment that I only studied DEAD languages once I got to high school.

Jacquie

This is my first time to your site, and I loved reading this post. I grew up in Haiti, a far cry geographically from Africa, but closer culturally. I got to live through some fun times politically as well, and get to worry about my family that is still there (I'm in the great state of Indiana for college right now) every few months when the kidnapping rate spikes. It sounds like we are on the same page as far as languages go - I was stubborn as a kid and wouldn't learn French because my parents wanted me too, and when they gave up begging me to, I majored in it. Can't say I'm fluent, though. Nice to see a feminist site that focuses on international issues too!

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