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By Shana

I was born and raised in Harare, Zimbabwe, and have recently returned to pursue an internship with an NGO. Currently, I work in rural Goromonzi with an organization called Nhaka Foundation. When I knew I was going to be working in Zimbabwe in the summer I was really excited to have the opportunity to work in a familiar environment. When my university suggested taking a cross cultural workshop I laughed at the idea and during the session I couldn’t help but think what new thing am I going to learn about my own country. I remember thinking nothing can shock me about Zimbabwe I mean I grew up there, went to school there and I haven’t been away from home for that long. I have also worked at Nhaka Foundation before leaving Zimbabwe to pursue my university education in Canada so, I figured I am a seasoned pro at going into the field and interacting with people. For those of you who are wondering what is Nhaka Foundation; it is a locally based not-for-profit organization that mainly focuses on increasing access to education and food for young vulnerable children in Zimbabwe.

At Nhaka Foundation our team decided to organise an event for the World Play Day this year at one of the schools. To increase community engagement and ownership we invited key stakeholders including the chief to watch the children playing. Now in traditional Shona culture there is a special getting reserved for chiefs that is to be made by one of the relatives of the chief at a gathering. Watching our organization’s field officer greet the chief according to custom seemed foreign to me. I felt weird about not knowing the exact procedure for interaction with a chief. That day I was thinking what do I do? ; am I allowed to take his picture ? as well as  can I ask him face to face about taking a picture of him?. I was lucky enough to have our field officer there to guide me on some of these matters. In this moment I felt so disconnected from a culture I thought I knew so well. Sometimes I think can I really claim to be an ‘authentic’ Zimbabwean (whatever that means). Whether I want to accept it or not my time in Canada although short has shifted so many things about me. I am not claiming that before I left I was an expert on all things but  I can see that in my interactions with people I have changed and forgotten things I knew…

For more about Nhaka Foundation please visit, follow them on Facebook at Nhaka Foundation and on Twitter @nhakafoundation.

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