By Emily Hale
Editor’s note: Students from Michigan State University and the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources are exploring frugal market innovations in Malawi. This is one of their reports.
Having blonde hair and translucent skin has made for an interesting first week here in Lilongwe, Malawi.
I am no longer invisible.
Even simply riding on the bus has been enough to attract loads of attention. People we pass on the street stare as the novelty that is a blonde girl rides by. In the markets my presence is announced with shouts of “WHITE PEOPLE, WHITE PEOPLE” or “MUZUNGO” (white person in Chichewa.) Everyone wants to know who I am and why I am here. Men who are participating in the daytime bar scene stumble towards me in request of my phone number or just a handshake.
Women give me a look of suspicion but are often won over when I smile and wave.
Even with many physical differences I have felt welcome in every aspect of this trip. The LUANAR students, and staff have been very inclusive. I have had a lot of success working in my group. Together we have accomplished a lot in our market.
The American and Malawian students have worked as complements, trading ideas, languages, and experiences, as we move toward innovative solution to the problems facing our market vendors.
Kindness is in abundance here is Malawi and I feel very lucky to have the chance to grow and learn in