Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Culture Shock: Comment

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Culture Shock: Comment

Article excerpt

When one of the visiting Gambian teachers cleared his throat and spat out of the car window, I knew we could be in trouble. We were stuck in London traffic and the pavement was crammed with football fans - not known for their patience with cultural differences - on their way to White Hart Lane stadium.

We hastily took a left turn, became lost and walked to the stadium from another part of London. Once inside the ground, it was our visitors' turn to be shaken by differences in culture and custom: more than 30 uninterrupted years of rural West African life until yesterday; now thousands of contorted faces variously singing, swearing and shouting at the top of their voices.

"You don't know what you're doing," one section of the crowd chanted repeatedly at the referee. It might equally have applied to us in our efforts that day to entertain our guests. Things scarcely improved later on. Still exhausted after their flight and shell-shocked after the football, our two visitors were then guests of honour at a dinner party. One of them looked wearily down at the vast plate of Gambian-style food presented to him, rested his forehead on the tablecloth and fell asleep. Equally strangely, the English people at the table continued to converse over his head as if nothing unusual had happened.

Do not misinterpret me. Our long-standing link with a Gambian school is a valuable educational venture. Some students and staff have become wiser as a result of these visits. We have all gained from the connection and students will remember our Gambia-themed initiatives and activities long after they have forgotten everything else about their schooldays. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.