When I first moved to my village in Lesotho, Africa, everyone asked me “Who Are You?
It wasn’t until I read a blog post entitled: “One Question You Should Ask Everyone You Meet,”
“Who Are You?”
“What Do You Do?”
by Marc & Angel on Life Hacks, that I started to see a difference in how cultures relate to one another.
When I lived in Orange County, California, people were quick to ask one another, “What do you do?” It used to irritate me as it seemed like we were judging one another’s level of education, and socio-economic status, just by asking that question.
“We seem to value people’s ‘doing’ more than who they are as a person.” Marc & Angel.
Now that I’m living in a tiny village in Lesotho, Africa, I’m equally irritated by the question, “Who Are you?” Ke mang? At first I found this question intrusive. “Can’t they see I’m a white, middle-aged woman?”
What the Basotho in rural areas want to know is, “What’s my name? Where am I from? What village do I live in? and Where am I going?” (even when I’m on my early morning walk.)
It occurred to me that maybe the Basotho truly care enough about me to get to know me; something that we may have lost in the first world, where we are competitive, comparing ourselves and our self-worth based on our jobs, and what we own.
“Are we interested enough in what we can learn from each other, to stop asking, “What do you do?” and start asking, “Who are you? What is your life story?” Marc & Angel.
I’ve always been interested in life stories and love asking people about their goals in life, and lessons learned. But truthfully, if I asked people questions 3-7 below, (Questions suggested by Marc & Angel) when I first met them, I think they would be shocked.
- Where were you born?
- Where do you live now?
- What makes you smile?
- What is the most important life lesson you’ve learned so far?
- What is your deepest fear?
- What is your greatest dream for your life?
- Who are you?
Since I moved to Lesotho to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer, I’ve been asked questions 1, 2 and 7, almost daily. I judged the Basotho as being nosy, and gossipy, and since I cannot communicate intelligently in their language, (Sesotho), I would get irritated with their insistence.
Now, I realize that perhaps they are interested in knowing more about my own life story, and that I might have been too quick to judge them as nosy, and “none of their business.” Imagine if we all cared enough about each other to find out the answers about “Who Are You?”
So I’m going to ask you, “Who are you?” Many of us are not sure about how to answer this question.
I’d love to hear back from you.