Soooo, maddie and i met this guy herimamy one night while we were eating in a hotely in our neighborhood. in exchange for an interview, he had us come to the graduate class he teaches on public administration to give a presentation about american culture in front of 216 students: everything from pop culture to sharing our ideas of what we consider to be good governance, three branches of government, etc. he specifically asked us in advance to touch on the subject of traffic laws............ because madagascar doesn't have them. he was under the impression that americans were sent to jail if they didnt use crosswalks to cross the street, which he thought was "too strict" of a law. even when we told him that the penalty for jaywalking (if caught) is only a fine, he was in disbelief. well yes, obviously he wouldn't be able to understand the concept of traffic laws because, as i said, madagascar has NONE. or if they do, no one enforces them. i've literally almost been killed on several occasions just from walking around here, and ive witnessed some really terrible accidents as well (some of which involved omby).
we also discussed american ideas of 'common courtesy'... like how it is impolite to use cell phones or even have cell phones visible in certain circumstances and how being late is rude. Here, cell phones are acceptable whenever - in any situation it is not considered rude to pick up a call or text, etc. this was weird for us at first, because we would be meeting government officials, professors, and other individuals who would be in the middle of giving us a lecture and then would pick up their phone to talk to someone for sometimes several minutes on end in front of all of us.
the weirdest was when we met the prince of the boeny region in western madagascar... it was a serious affair.. i mean like our hair had to be taken out of braids and pony tails, we had to have a certain type of lamba (sarong type things) to cover our shoulders and legs, we couldnt sit on the floor with the soles of our feet facing outward, etc. it was also forbidden for people of a certain ethnic group called the merina to enter into the prince's sacred 'area'. annnnnnyways, while we were sitting in this little sunlight hut with the prince and members of his royal clan, i was shocked when one of the clan dudes picked up his phone while we were having our q&a with the prince and just sat there still and talked. none of the malagasy even took the slightest notice of it - but for us americans, we were (or at least i was) extremely distracted by it. my description is definitely not giving the situation much justice, but yeah it was just a weird situation.
we also talked about tardiness in the presentation because the malagasy really do not pay attention to it. it's part of the "moramora" lifestyle - the slow, laid back pace of life here. for scheduled interview times, for instance, it's almost certain that the malagasy will not show up on time. i've waited for every one of my interviewees - sometimes for up to 2 hours. i kind of love it though, it's so much less stressful that way.
the presentation was definitely interesting........ great experience and i got closer to getting over my stage fright!!!!!! (the microphones certainly helped with that...)