Contamination can be negative if positive relationships are not built and if there is not consideration for culture. We have all formed different relationships within our service and with the people of our community. These relationships have helped us secure our beliefs that by being here we are not negatively contaminating. The relationships we build give us an appreciation for community on a different level. Our experiences, for instance, Isabel’s conversations about night life, Sarah’s understanding of woman’s rights and Carly’s observation about expected roles of family members ,have informed us of the different ideals that exist in Karagwe.
Isabel’s view of contamination is that although we are contaminating it is not always a negative thing. The individuals that she has had conversations with have held on to their beliefs and perspectives about their culture. For example one conversation Isabel had with a student of Kayanga Secondary School, George, about gay rights, showed that two individuals from different cultures can share ideas but hold on to their own values in the end.
Sarah’s view of contamination is only negative if you do not respect the culture. Understanding their practices will although you to be less ethnocentric and more open to their ways of life. For example, prior to living in Kayanga Sarah never thought that showing her knees would be culturally unacceptable. Now every day, Sarah rocks a floor length skirt, showing her respect for the culture.
Carly thinks that contamination is the wrong word to use when referring to her volunteering. The experience that she has had, leads her to believe that she has been leaving a positive trail. For example, everyday the people she works with, or the means of transportation she takes, everyone is happy to see her and welcomes her . Carly has built relationships beyond Kayanga showing that she is taking in the considerations of the way of life in Karagwe.
Together through relationships we have been able to positively integrate into the community without negatively contaminating. We recognize that negative contamination exist, but believe that everyone should make their best effort to engage in cultural activities, thus understanding the culture, people and way of life in which we live in.