Every day as I lay down to sleep I am reminded why I have chosen to come to Botswana. I could have stayed home. I could have taken comfort in the familiar. Yet still I know, good day or bad, I have made the right choice.
So I’m sitting in My Psychology Cognition and Learning class, taking notes as fast as I can while struggling with the professor’s all too strong accent.
The topic of discussion is that of “superstitious behavior”. The idea is that superstitious behavior is created by witnessing or being told that an action will control the reaction of something else. Scientific definition is that these two events occur together by mere coincidence. For example, a person may kiss a coin before tossing it into a pond in belief that this will increase the chances of their wish coming true. When this action and reaction does occur then the superstitious behavior is reinforced.
After, the professor finished explaining this to the class and I took a break from frantically taking notes; a guy just a few seats down from me raised his hand. When called upon the student sat tall an addressed the professor. “Yes, sir. So you mean superstitious behavior and belief like the eye-twitching thing?”
The professor responded with a nonchalant “yes, exactly” and so the lecture continued.
I must have had a VERY confused VERY intense look on my face because the next thing I knew the professor (and the rest of the class for that matter) was staring straight at me. With a slight smirk and without even asking me what was wrong, the professor looked at the guy next to me and in Swetsana asked him to clarify.
The Class chuckled a bit. At this point I felt extremely awkward and yet after spending just over two weeks in Botswana, I had become very familiar with this feeling. I responded with a “yes, please, I am so very confused”. The class laughed louder.
The guy, who sat just two seats down from me stared directly at me with a huge smile now spread across his face and happily explained. “Okay so in Botswana there is an old belief that if the top of your eye twitches then it is good luck, good omen.” “Now, if the bottom of your eye twitches, then it is bad luck and something bad will happen”.
The class was silent. Then suddenly and very loudly, the class burst into laughter, professor included. At that point I realized my jaw was literally hanging open. That’s when I began to laugh. It was at that moment it felt right to be in Botswana.
As the laughter subdued the professor continued with his lecture. He got no more than three words in before a young girl across the room (whom I had already had a delightful encounter with) shot up her hand. As she was called upon, she could hardly contain the words. “I want to hear something from Krisstina!” “Today she has heard one of our superstitions; I want to know one from her country!”
My mind was blank. I had nothing, but the eyes of my classmates focused solely on me.
Fortunately, that entire class I had been starving for lunch and was dying for a sandwich and coke. That’s when I figured it out. Soda! I began to speak hoping not to make a fool of myself. “Okay, so in America, as kids, many of us are told that if you want to make sure the soda doesn’t explode in your face when you are opening a can, then you have to tap the top of the metal a few times” “Most of us know this really doesn’t work and yet there are still plenty of us who, probably out of habit, tap the top just before opening the can and sure enough it almost never explodes.” To really get my point across I tapped the wooden table in front of me.
Once again the class was silent. Sure enough within a short second not a person in that classroom could contain the laughter. Many in fact, began to mimic the tapping motion out of sheer delight.
In this moment, this very awkward, very hilarious, memorable culture exchange the world felt perfect. Through their laughter and my own, God showed me that coming to Africa was exactly the right choice.