Twenty Questions

Being a foreigner in another country, I tend to get asked a lot of questions. People are curious about my lifestyle, my homeland, and my appearance, rightfully so. On first thought, these questions usually seem utterly ridiculous to me. However, I also get asked a lot of questions about my life in Namibia from my American friends and family which, after living here for over 100 days now, can often seem equally ridiculous. Here, I am sharing a few of my favorites: 20 from Namibians, and 20 from Americans. Get ready for a shift in perspective…and hopefully a laugh or two.

20 Questions I have been asked by Namibians

  1. Are you Norwegian?
  2. You don’t eat meat? What about chicken? Fish? [No, still meat, still meat]
  3. Can you see the moon in America? [Yes] Oh, I thought there were just buildings blocking the sky everywhere.
  4. Is there grass in the US?
  5. Do you have trees as tall as these [~20 feet] in the US?
  6. Do you [personally] know Chris Brown? Rihanna? Mr. Bean?
  7. Have you met Obama?
  8. Is your first language German?
  9. What is your first language? [English] What is your second language? […you know what they say about Americans, right?]
  10. What are those dots on your skin? [Freckles/birthmarks]
  11. Are you [Eric] Jesus?
  12. What is that, what is that, what is that…? [Points to everything in our house]
  13. Can I have your number? [I’m married] That’s okay.
  14. Can I go back to America with you?
  15. Where are your kids? You don’t have kids?!
  16. Why do you [Tina] dress like a boy?
  17. Why do you [Eric] have girl’s hair?
  18. Where did you get that? [Referring to Eric’s beard]
  19. Why don’t you take that off? [Again referring to Eric’s beard]
  20. Do you have a TV in your house? [No] Must be boring.

20 Questions I have been asked by Americans

  1. Did you get my letter/package yet? [No. You’ll know when I get it because I will be overly excited. It’s the little things.]
  2. Do you have a stove inside? [Yes, but valid question]
  3. Are there fat Namibians? [Yes, there is an obesity problem here too]
  4. Where is Namibia? []
  5. Do you have indoor plumbing? [Yes, but again valid question]
  6. Do you have WiFi? [No, sometimes my school does]
  7. Youtube it! [Is that a sick joke? I’m working with 2G here.]
  8. Do you have tofu there? [I haven’t found any yet]
  9. How do you do laundry? By hand? [Yes and I count it as a workout]
  10. Is there any public transit? [Kind of, but most people hitch hike as their main form of transport]
  11. Do they make spicy food there? [Most Namibians actually hate spicy food]
  12. Is there grass there? [Why is everyone so curious about grass? I live in the desert. It’s mostly dirt and sand]
  13. How many other volunteers are in your town? [Another sick joke? PCVs are rarely placed in the same town. The closest volunteer is about 30 kilometers away]
  14. Do they speak English there? [English is the official language of Namibia. Most people speak it, but it is rarely someone’s first language]
  15. You’ll have to translate for us when we visit. [See above]
  16. Wow. So that stuff really happens? [You’d be surprised.]
  17. What time is it there? [Between GMT+1 and GMT+2 depending on the time of year]
  18. You can’t drive?! [No, PC rules]
  19. When will you be back? [Our tentative close of service is October 20, 2018]
  20. How close are you to (insert African country here)? [Far, very far]

Okay, so some of those aren’t questions per se, but I think you get the point. Any question can seem ridiculous based on the perspective that you view it in. I’ve come to accept all of these questions, Namibian or American, with a healthy sense of humor. So, please, keep asking away!

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