We were on our way from the small village of Nangweshi, Zambia to Katima Mulilo, Namibia and had finally, after 20+ kilometers of dirt two-track and gravel roads, found the blacktop. Our driver, a young Congolese physics teacher named James, accelerated and began to relax, but a bit too soon. Up ahead was a police barrier, not an uncommon sight in Zambia, and we were being told to stop.
James muttered under his breath, and we all just shook our heads. Zambian police are always looking for some small infraction which they then offer to settle on the spot, if you catch my drift. James got out of the vehicle, followed a few minutes later by our dear friend, Percy.
Some ten minutes later, they returned. I asked if a settlement had been reached, expecting yes for an answer. But, James laughed and said, "No way I was paying. I had no infraction." Surprised, I asked him how he'd pulled it off. He said that he had, after arguing back and forth, simply told the policeman, "We have a gap of understanding between you and me!" I just laughed and laughed.
A gap of understanding between you and me! My new favorite African phrase!
When we're training in the bush, gaps of understanding happen all the time: Lozi to English...British English to American English...Zambian village culture to American suburban culture, and the list goes on and on...
As Percy says, "We both speak English, but we speak a different language!"
Thats why it's so important to take our time when we train, to return again and again, and to build trust with our students. Questions arise all the time, many based on the content of our curriculum, but many others based on language and cultural differences. When we train, we do not want to leave any gaps of understanding between our students and us!
As we pulled back onto the blacktop and accelerated, I wondered what "gaps of understanding" we'd face during our Phase 2 training at our next destination, Katima Mulilo, Namibia...
Please continue praying for our students and us, especially for good health, safe travels, strong relationships, transformative training, and as few "gaps" as possible!