A Guest from the U.S.

Mubita Matale is a 15 year-old Zambian girl and the daughter of a KF Mentor. She and her family were the host family for Annie Keating, a rising senior at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut. Annie was part of a group of Hotchkiss students and teachers that visited KF in Lusaka during July 2008. Annie was particularly devoted to helping KF in Lusaka and stayed with the Matale family for approximately 10 days after the Hotchkiss group left Lusaka, while she volunteered as a teacher at the Ibex Hill School, one of KF’s partner schools. Below is Mubita’s description of the time spent with her family’s guest from the U.S.

Most people are under the preconceived notion that living a thousand miles apart makes us more different than the culture we are bounded by.

Anne Keating, a student from the Hotchkiss School in the U.S., spent close to a month in the foreign land of Zambia in order to explore and appreciate the diversity of culture the world has to offer. My family and I demonstrated exemplary Zambian hospitality and hosted Annie at our home for a period of three weeks. The clash of our cultures was most exciting and remarkably enlightening. Annie's patriotism showed though in the most eminent way in that she remained true to herself but with a well-defined eagerness to digest what was now her reality.

At dinner time we all assembled at the table and gave grace before we began eating. Annie indulged herself in an array of African cuisines, which without a doubt in my mind was quite an unusual ordeal! Annie was eating foods that are considered a delicacy in some parts of Zambia such as caterpillars - popularly known as 'finkubala'. Nevertheless she seemed satisfied with our staple food “nshima” which is made from maize meal and, to her delight, the freedom to eat with her hands.

Annie also sampled the wildlife and bodies of water for which Zambia is famous. She was amazed at how exciting this could be. Moreover she found herself amused by the scenery and capturing it on film. For the sake of remembrance Annie created a modernized version of the traditional Zambian attire made of the indigenous “chitenge” material.

Anne was quite content in her bedroom space where she spent most of her time reflecting on her stay and catching up on some reading. Occasionally, she would spend time watching T.V. though she would rather broaden her knowledge by reading a book. Also, most distinctively I remember her love for poetry and her devotion to put her thoughts and ideas in lyrical terms on paper.

On the Sunday before she left one particular ordeal that sticks with me still to this date was our visit to church and the manner in which the faith of all gathered there seemed to be conspicuously similar. Annie fit right in. She hastily joined in singing along with the entire church and this gave me the impression that she really enjoyed the sermon.

I believe this experience was a learning curve more than anything as to the similarities and diversities in our culture and that we should take pride in where we come from and strive for a higher learning in the world around us.

Mubita Matale
July 2008