Mzungus: Week 1

2 06 2012

5/26/2012
Hello from Kunya Village in Kenya! My name is Saira Butt, and I’m a rising junior pursuing a Psychology major, Global Health Certificate, and an Environmental Science and Policy minor. This is my first post because I’ve been unsure of what to write about for this blog, so here’s my first try!
Going into this trip, as well as within this first week, a blog called something like “White Girl in Africa,” has been on my mind. Someone in my class last semester brought it up, and as you may have guessed, it makes fun of the stereotypical white girl saving the poor Africans. As a light-skinned girl in Africa right now, avoiding that stereotype has been my top and foremost goal. I started thinking about it last summer in Ghana, when Ghanaians in the market would ask me why I was there. Their assumption was always that I was doing some sort of community service, and I’ll admit it was pretty satisfying to tell them I was here not to teach, but to learn. Why? Because I’m sure they’re tired of foreigners coming in for a few months and acting like they have the solution. It felt good to defy that assumption, to show that I find value in coming to their country beyond its problems. (Disclaimer: I’m not trying to bash service in any way!!!)
This summer, we’re doing health and water research in a village in Kenya. We’ve been told many really sad stories about the lives of some of the people we’ve met, and I really want to do whatever I can to help. So I’ve been trying to find a balance between wanting to help and wanting to avoid acting like I’m here to fix their problems.
My goal for the next 2 months is to have some sort of lasting beneficial effect without becoming the white girl who thinks she’s saving Africa. When a kid sees me and screams, “Mzungu!” I don’t want to be one of the many mzungus that he or she may have a mental schema for.

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