Thursday, August 7, 2014

Douglas College student confronts cultural differences in Africa

                                                                David Denofreo Photo
When Iloradanon Efimoff visited Zambia, the experience shook up her views on feminism—and taught her a valuable lesson.

Iloradanon, who’s studying psychology at Douglas, visited the African country through the College's Zambia Global Leadership Program. The yearly program gives students the opportunity to complete three-month practicums that support community development.

An experienced tutor, Iloradanon taught English to teens in a rural school. One day, after helping other women cook a meal for school officials, she was told to serve the headmaster—while kneeling before him.

The request did not sit well with the self-described feminist.

“I didn’t really know how to respond, because I didn’t want to insult another person’s culture. But at the same time, it was crossing my boundaries in so many ways.”

A local female teacher quickly stepped in and showed her how to deal with the situation.

“She throws the plate on the table, turns around and walks out,” Iloradanon recalls. “And the headmaster was laughing, like it wasn’t a big deal.”

Iloradanon says the experience helped her better understand people from different cultures.

“That’s the way women are coping with sexism in Zambia,” she says. “You could call it a different type of feminism.”

Learn more about the Zambia Global Leadership Program at douglife.ca/zambia-glp