We all grew up hearing our parents say at the dinner table, “Chew with your mouth closed!” or “Don’t talk with your mouth full!” In our culture it is rude or sloppy to chew with your mouth open or talk with your mouth full. Of course, now that we are grandparents, we can’t get over how cute it is to see the grand kids chew that way! Well, one day in the tribe I was out on the porch of our house sharing some crackers with a few of the guys as we sat and visited about the latest happenings in the village. As we were eating, one fellow made the comment, “Lo’u, (Red – my village name. It can also mean meat or muscle; pretty sure they meant the latter for me. 😊) you chew with your mouth closed.” “Well ya” was my reply as I half rolled my eyes because of the obvious. “That’s the polite way to eat.” Of course, under my breath I was saying that’s according to my culture. The fellow looked at the others with half a grin on his face and then proudly replied with some cracker crumbs falling out of his mouth, “Well, we chew like pigs!!” And in unison like well-practiced choir, the guys all laughed together in perfect harmony!! It suddenly dawned on me that my language and culture acquisition from that time forward was going to include exercises and practice with a mouth full of food in order to chew and talk according to their cultural practice and “eat like a pig”! Once again, I was challenged with the fact that the simplest things in my culture were the exact opposite in tribal culture. And in realizing those things I also had to accept the fact that those differences were not wrong, just different and therefore okay.

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