We have been holding question and answer sessions with each of the classes at Mustard Seed School in Busota, Uganda and we’ve been getting a lot of interesting questions. The Q&A session usually follow the same pattern.
The session usually starts with students asking about the weather in Uganda compared to the United States, then goes into questions about the current time in the United States. As usual, I’m asked “are you from China?”.
From there we get questions about our main crops and our economy. Since I’m from California, it’s difficult to explain to the students that a large portion of the economy is from intangible computer programs that people pay lots of money for, and not from actually building the computers.
To answer most of the questions I say that the United States is very diverse, and that the answer is different in different parts of the country.
The questions range from “Is it true that in Chaina [sic] that they name their children after the sound it makes after they drop a spoon?” to “We hear that in USA even a young child is possessing a gun. Is it true and why?”
We inevitably get asked about homosexuality.
“Is it true that men can marry men in your country?” When I answer yes, it is usually met with shock and gasps.
“Why do gays have rights, yet it seems to be a bad thing?” is usually the next question that’s asked. How am I supposed to answer a question like this? I don’t want to say something that disparages their beliefs, yet it is something I feel strongly about.
A student asked today why the whites make Uganda like homosexuality in order to receive aid. How do you answer questions like that?
Shortly after, the students asked “do you like it?”. The students weren’t asking whether we condoned the behavior; they assumed we engaged in same-sex sex and were asking if we enjoyed it.
The teachers sensed our obvious discomfort and ended the topic.
Topics like marriage come up, so I explain to them our process of dating, then engagement, then marriage. (Dating doesn’t happen here – the couple decides to get married, the man pays a dowry, and then the couple holds a wedding ceremony.) This was followed by questions about polygamy, dowries, and infertility. They were especially interested in the number of children a couple usually conceives – I told them that it was up to the couple, but that the average is around 2. This was surprising since the number of kids conceived per couple is much higher.
Then we delved into discussions on political issues and problems within the countries. The students usually ask about corruption and bribery in the United States, gun control laws, Syria, abortion, age of maturity, and immigration. They also asked “why does the US start so many wars?”
Here’s a collection of the most interesting questions. Let me know how you would answer them in the comments.
Wendy also wrote a post about the question and answer session. Here’s a link to her blog if you’re interested in hearing more.