#13 Going Native
Don’t front like you don’t know what we’re talking about…
They love talking about it, making jokes about it, thinking about it. They love using sexual themes as metaphors for aid work, and vice versa. And of course, they love – you know – doing it. As the Yanamamo of the Amazon River Basin are famous for saying, “Good fish gets boring. But sex is always fun.” (BTW, we seriously need a bumper sticker which reads “Expat Aid Workers do it for relief”.)
Posts and posts can (and will, on this blog) be written about the sex-lives of Expat Aid Workers. No other topic has had more permutations offered as possible guest posts, and so never fear: this very fertile ground will not go un-ploughed or un-seeded. But for the purposes of this somewhat inaugural post, we’ll focus on a perennial issue for Expat Aid Workers: “Going Native.”
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As any Expat Aid Worker who’s been around for one or two deployments knows, the issue of “Going Native” lurks, omnipresent, in the background. Getting busy in the team house with the Bulgarian operations director after a long, hard day of distribution is old hat. So is a little impromptu horizontal mambo with the Brazillian program quality officer while on a multi-day field visit.
But what about going native? What about sex with locals?
Anyone can learn a language. Hell, tourists can acquire a taste for fufu or rakki. Even the volunteer teams (with their matching T-shirts) can figure out Port-au-Prince traffic. But what sets today’s Expat Aid Worker apart from the wannabes and the poseurs is that they can “go native.”
And when you think about it, it makes sense. Few things say, “I am one with the people” like nailing the hot, local office manager or getting nailed by the suave local driver. Few things can communicate to the amateurs and newbies that you are a person of the world who has been fully embedded in local culture (one with whom local people are open and receptive) like public-yet-obviously-intimate displays of affection with a foxy/handsome local person. Preferably one 5-10 years younger than yourself.
Naturally there are some contexts where “going native” is more challenging than others, but it’s still totally worth it. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a conservative, racist loser who clearly fails to recognize that the world is browning down, that the kind of deep, meaningful cross-cultural interaction you’re talking about is inherently “good” and worth any cost.
So go on. Go native. Any negative fallout (you getting fired, your lover being disowned by her family…) just proves your point. It’s just more evidence that more “going native” makes the world a better place. It proves that you’re simply more open-minded and enlightened, and less ethnocentric than most people. Everyone talks about building better relations between people of different races, ethnicities and cultures. But you’re actually doing it.