The problem with American

Last week, on my flight from New York back to Sydney, I binge watched Season 1 of The Newsroom. It’s a series created by Aaron Sorkin, the guy behind The West Wing, with Jeff Daniels playing Will McAvoy, an anchorman on cable news.

In the opening scene of the series pilot, Will is on a panel with a Democrat and a Republican at a university, when a student asks the panel: “What makes America the greatest country in the world?”

The question triggers an epic and rousing outburst from Will, who dresses down both major political parties and rails about why America is no longer the greatest country on earth.

“But it could be”, he then says in softer tones.

That first season of The Newsroom aired in 2012, before Donald Trump ever campaigned for president, promising to “make America great again”.

Coincidence? I doubt it. Continue reading The problem with American

Sorry, what do you mean?

I’ve been considering whether National Sorry Day would be more or less controversial if we spoke Spanish. There are a couple of ways to say “sorry” in Spanish: Disculpa/Perdóname Literally “Excuse (me)” and “Pardon/Forgive me”. This form conveys an element of fault on the part of the speaker. A sincere apology and plea for forgiveness would use these verb forms. At the same time, perdón and disculpa are sometimes also … Continue reading Sorry, what do you mean?

How South America messed me up good

People always ask me about my time in South America. Some are genuinely interested, while for others it’s the polite and logical thing to ask. In either case, the truth is that these conversations have started to get a bit repetitive and I’m often left wishing I could say more than: that Latinos are warmer; that Andean dishes contain too many carbs; that working with survivors of child sexual abuse was hard as you’d imagine but so rewarding; that I’m not sure how to answer your question about how good my Spanish is.

The worst thing is that I can’t seem to do Bolivia and Ecuador justice – not in a brief conversation that could turn to a different topic at any given moment.

So below are a few noteworthy things I don’t generally get to share about the impact that my time in South America has had on me as a person and who I am now. Continue reading How South America messed me up good

Is that MY voice?

So there is this hilarious line from The Emperor’s New Groove we always quote. The villainous Yzma turns into a cat and suddenly her voice goes into chipmunk mode. “Is THAT my voice?” she exclaims, confused. “Is that MY voice?” I am increasingly feeling like this little feline. What’s with that accent? Sometimes I hear myself and am surprised by my own speech. Now this is normal when, for example, … Continue reading Is that MY voice?

Ten things you should know about being a missionary

The very fact that you are foreign is, on its own, a key part of whatever ministry you do. As a foreigner, you generally have more respect, authority and liberty in whatever you do, and people will want to be friends with you. The flipside of that is that being foreign can also be a limiting factor in ministry – especially in terms of language, … Continue reading Ten things you should know about being a missionary

What next?

Past the six month mark and I’m already thinking about what to do after my time here (which, by the way, is still kind of indefinite – I’ve been saying I’ll finish up in August or September). Naturally, I’d like to go home for a bit. I’ve been talking about doing a trip to Canada to visit relatives, and maybe see something of the States … Continue reading What next?

Clash or conform?

Culture clash? Thankfully, I haven’t really experienced culture clash as such. I think having travelled before has helped me adapt to any new situations so that I don’t “feel” cultural differences so markedly. That said, there are certain differences that are mildly inconvenient! The culture here is much more sexual, even from a young age. One example is the tradition of electing reinas (beauty queens), … Continue reading Clash or conform?