We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.
Favorite Blog Post #3 – Originally posted on July 18, 2013
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The following is a post Unofficial Ambassador Kayla Kyle penned earlier this month. Kayla is serving in Zanzibar, Tanzania, with Zayadesa, a local non-governmental organization. Look for more from Kayla here in the coming days.
With America’s independence day nearing, I find myself becoming more and more patriotic, wanting to share my culture with anyone that will listen. I look for an American flag everywhere I go and smile whenever I see a picture of Barack Obama. I can’t help but laugh with pride whenever someone asks me where I am from and when they find out I am from America, they smile and shout “Obamaland!”. But these outbursts are only a pinch of the experience I have had as an American citizen in Zanzibar. I have had many interesting conversations with new acquaintances, friends, and co-workers at Zayedesa about America, Zanzibar, culture, and many other things. Out of my many conversations that I have had, one of the major issues that has come up concerning Zanzibar is time management. Here at Zayedesa, I am expected to teach the staff how to manage their time wisely and to be punctual. While punctuality and time management are of major importance in America, that is not the case in Zanzibar. Everyone usually comes to a meeting half an hour late, continuously goes in and out of the meeting at his or her own free will, answers his or her phone during the meeting, and generally lacks an idea of work ethic. While my tone may seem accusing, it is not actually my intention to make negative accusations. I am merely observing the environment that I am in and in this environment time management is not a high priority. This fact of Zanzibar culture has been a hard battle for me to wage in, but I am trying my best to teach my students the importance of time. The process has definitely been one of my low points as a volunteer because the job of changing someone’s culture is almost impossible. The laid back outlook of time management is a part of Zanzibar culture and cannot be changed overnight. Just like how in America one will not be able to relax the strict outlook of time management in the American culture. However, despite my constant struggle to guide my students toward better time management, I have had at least one high point with this subject and it was right after my first time management class. The first staff meeting that I had with the peer educators at Zayedesa’s youth center ended with an explanation from me as to how important time management is and how one can improve his or her punctuality. I remember thinking to myself that it was going to be hard to see any improvement any time soon, but I finished my lesson and schedule my first English class with them for the next Tuesday at 11a.m.. I will admit that I went through the weekend and Monday assuming that my class would not start on time, but to my wonderful surprise when I arrived at the youth center my class was ready to start at 10:50 a.m.. While most people might not find such an event so exciting, I found it very surprising and I was so happy and delighted because it seemed that maybe I would be able to reach out and improve some aspects that may be lacking in efficiency like time management. It was one of my few triumphs that I have had as a volunteer and I am so proud of it. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but maybe time management can be built in six weeks.