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#157 Embracing Double Standards

July 2, 2012

Submitted by UXO

Our friendly EAW is simply genius when it comes to embracing the double standards required of him or her while surviving in difficult environments. It’s part of the trade; an inherent part of EAW-living. Building on lessons learned from a range of blogs and international best practice, the following can be considered some of the most popular examples from field practitioners in the aforementioned area. There is of course room for interagency and civil society stakeholder consultation and innovative crowd-sourcing approaches to compile additional contributions:

1.       Abstinence. Being Faithful. Condoms. (ABC)

Oh dear, failed on all three. Abstinence? Ha. In fact EAWs are quite fond of romancing. Whether that implies going native or not depends on the EAW and/or the setting. Faithfulness? Out the window once in expat-ville where the “what goes on tour stays on tour” attitude goes to the extreme, especially for those who live by the rules of the “geographically single.” And considering the plentiful house parties, what else could be expected? Condoms? Millions distributed along with education on their use and yet we end up with issues surrounding…

2.       (Un) Planned pregnancy

Sex education, birth spacing, self-esteem building, gender equity, birth control, women’s empowerment, masculinity workshops — the EAW scratches his or her head, trying to figure out why these various well-researched strategies to help beneficiaries avoid unplanned pregnancy don’t always work! Until, whoops, that night of heated passion (or simple laziness and disregard for consequences) means the EAW finds him or herself going home with a little more than a nice local piece of art work as a parting gift. Oh well, at least the kid will be good looking and can be called “India” or “Chad….” In a potentially different kind of interaction, some EAWs just bestow their parting gift on someone in-country before they leave.

3.       Speeding

Give a man a UN logo and a Land Cruiser and he can reach speeds unknown to humankind.  This leads to trainings (a new noun created by EAWs) upon trainings, disciplinary process upon disciplinary process yet nothing seems to work! Ranting to national staff drivers about speeding on long road trips is a duty for EAWs. When behind the wheel, however; speeding through the countryside along bumpy dusty roads, leaving a sand storm in their wake just comes with EAW territory. Who knew it was so much fun!? Not to mention the EAW can update her or his Facebook status with something like “drove from x to y in 8 hours –supposed to take 2 days…. Oops!”

4.       Driving after dark

EAWs love them some lengthy bollocking of national staff for breaking security guidelines – this is serious stuff!  Then again, when it’s a weekend trip to the beach that results in the EAW him or herself getting stuck in traffic jams on the way back into capital city and returning after nightfall, why, it’s all part of an EAW’s penchant for adventure!

5.       Nepotism

Stamping out corruption and posting “zero tolerance to corruption” in various languages around the office is the responsibility of a good EAW who is helping build capacity in country. But sometimes it’s just so tempting to hire a friend as a consultant or to bring in that excellent assistant from the EAW’s old NGO as the new operations manager. It’s not corruption in the EAW’s case. It’s just the only way to get anything done around here.

6.       Bribes

Yes, yes. It’s wrong. But somehow a timely gazoza to a policeman on a Saturday night when  stopped on the way back from the bar is the easiest option. Especially if the EAW has been…

7.       Drink driving

Civic education about road safety is fine for other people. And downing more than a pint or two and then driving is probably totally socially unacceptable at home. But out in the field the EAW will happily sit behind the wheel of their car whilst semi trollied. What else is there to do on a Saturday night? Plus there’s hardly any traffic in these backwaters…and everyone else does it. Plus, EAWs can always call on their local politician friends if things get difficult. So consequences? Pshhht. There usually are none.

8.       P*rn (or other inappropriate materials on the work computer)

That code of conduct regarding the use of sexually demeaning conduct or materials in the workplace is clearly there for a reason, and local staff who have p*rn on their laptops really should be sacked – clearly that goes against the morals of the development sector. But EAWs however really need something therapeutic whilst away from the ones they love…. (Note: this does not apply to our righteously indignant tree hugging variety of EAW.)

So many conflicting rules exist in this overlap between the EAW’s world and the developing world. They really can’t be understood or reasoned by anyone but the EAW who’s been there. Sometimes embracing these double standards is necessary for development purposes!


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3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2012 2:47 am

    Love it

  2. George permalink
    July 6, 2012 1:09 am

    3,4 and 7 usually go together in near or actual death experiences. A friend discovered (as a passenger) that it’s possible to ride a motorbike at 110km/h down Dili’s Comoro Rd at 5am last Saturday. When they finally slowed, a local tried to take the key off them, unsuccessfully.

    There’s a local rumor about a UN staff member who ran over a man (drunkenly speeding at night), went to UN “prison” and then was released and did it again. They put him on the next flight out, before anyone joined the dots. Perhaps it’s time for a post on: Hating the UN….

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