Not much to report today. After three days of Christmas prep and partying, we relaxed at MacDella’s place, except for the few hours we were at the Royal Hotel, eating and using the Internet. I’m glad we rested because I’m officially sick. No, not with any the diseases I paid about $700 for and endured 7 shots for — it’s just a cold. Don’t you wish there was a vaccine for that? I’m just thankful I was feeling 100% well yesterday for the party – I wouldn’t have wanted to been sneezing all over the kids!

Genevieve and I played some card games with Leila on the balcony. We always sit on the balcony before 7pm, because it’s dark in the house — we have to wait for the electricity to turn on shortly at 7pm. Leila taught us three games — A4K7, Flower King, and Seven to Win. They were all pretty basic, similar to the game War that Gen, I, and tons of American kids play. War is really the only card game I can remember how to play. Gen was almost going to teach Leila that one, but then she remembered it wouldn’t be culturally appropriate, considering Liberia’s recent history. I had to make the same cultural check yesterday at the party, when it crossed my mind to teach the kids Red Light, Green Light. In Liberia, there aren’t traffic lights, so the game might not make much sense.

In the Gender and Democracy class that I took my last semester of college, we analyzed “the gaze of the West” — the preconceived notions that Westerners bring to other countries, especially in the third world. Gen and I are really trying to fight that, but to some degree, it’s impossible to remove yourself from the customs and amenities you’ve grown up with. MacDella tells us about the resistance she gets for bringing her “American ways” into the country — meaning if a bus driver says he’s going to charge her $125 to give orphans a ride to the party, she shouldn’t be angry when he jacks the price up to $180, just because of how nice her friend’s house looked. In Liberia, that’s fair. In the US, it’s not.

When sitting in the Royal Hotel, I heard an educated Liberian man lecture a friend on and on about the shortcomings of his country. I think it’s going to take a generation with no memory of the war leading Liberia to truly create national pride and bring Liberia up to speed with the world…but like MacDella, I do believe the hope is there with the kids and orphans.