Duncan Aston has been a volunteer at TCOAC since September 2015. His main role is being a homeschool teacher to Malaki Torres. He also helps with an art project for TCOAC kids, plays volleyball with local young men and helped to build a playground at the Village of Jeremiah. Here he shares his experience of cross-cultural living:
My name is Duncan. I am from the United States. From a small county called Lancaster which is located in Pennsylvania. I have been here in Burundi for 5 months. For the entirety of my 5 months here in Burundi I have lived with two young native Burundians (photo above). Mwete and Methode are their names. Living with two Burundians has been a time of stretching and learning. It has also been a wonderful time and full of laughter.
I have gone from living with my parents who understand me and know where I am at in life to living with two Burundians who were complete strangers from a completely different culture. Where on the weekend I would like to sleep in, they like to be up and about. Where I like my quiet time, they like to fill the house with songs and talking. Where I have no experience in being a host, they love to have people over to our house. And this list could go on forever. Although some of this can be difficult now and then, it is the reason I came to Burundi. To see and learn about another culture, to make friendships with new people. This is exactly what I have been given in two Burundian housemates. Because of Methode and Mwete every day I learn a little more about Burundi and the people and the culture that fills this beautiful country. Methode and Mwete have helped me understand how native Burundians look at foreigners. They have helped my knowledge of the language Kirundi immensely.
Living with Methode and Mwete has been challenging on so many levels. Being from completely different cultures and lifestyles has made us into completely different people that think and communicate in a completely different ways. Of course, as I have said, this can be difficult and challenging at times, but it also has created between us three a great friendship.
Due to our different lifestyles communication has been a big thing in my relationships with Methode and Mwete. All three of us have different ways of communicating, plus sometimes language can hinder our understanding of each other, thus I have been stretched and have had to learn new ways to communicate my thoughts and/or feelings. Because of our different lifestyles I like to eat dinner much earlier than they do. But I have learned that I enjoy their company during dinner versus eating alone. And this list as well could continue forever.
Of course there are struggles and some disagreements, but we continue to move forward and to grow in our friendships. I am very thankful for the time I have been and will be in Burundi. I have been very blessed thus far by Methode and Mwete and I am sure they will continue to bless me while I am in Burundi. My time living with two Burundians has been filled with learning about the culture and the people of Burundi and has given me some wonderful friends.