Rich Westerners & Muffin Monday

Welcome to Monday! Today I’m sending you to Djibouti Jones to read a challenging article called “When Rich Westerners Don’t Know They are Being Rich Westerners”. This is something I’ve wrestled with, sometimes through emails with Rachel of Djibouti Jones. She has articulated well the problem and struggle and will continue the conversation next Monday. I encourage you to take a look and share your thoughts through commenting on her site. Below is a short excerpt.


I am not surprised by, but continue to be disappointed in, the western attitude toward the developing world. It is an attitude I see often, though not exclusively, among Christians. It is an attitude of superiority, a god-complex. An attitude that communicates an underlying assumption, intentionally or not, that the rich westerner is the one with power and authority and agency. As this is communicated, of course the opposite is communicated as well. The local person is weak, a victim, and helpless. The rich westerner must charge in to fix things, build things, challenge the status quo.

This happens in blogs, books, movies, songs…And it isn’t just Christians. It is Hollywood and Random House and MTV.

“These kinds of stories…give a paternalistic picture of urban communities as mere recipients. They do not show the heroic community leaders that are in every urban neighborhood, people working hard with little resources and little recognition… Cure for the White Savior Complex by Shawn Casselberry”

For a horrifying example read this article (or don’t and just be satisfied with the title) in Glamour and then the comment section: Meet Mindy Budgor, the World’s First Female Maasai Warrior. Some people call this the white savior complex and there is most definitely an aspect of race involved, the conversations overlap at many points, but it is more than a skin color issue.

One point that must be made is that I am a rich westerner from a Christian background living in the developing world…..Read the rest here.


Cinnamon Blueberry MuffinsToday’s muffins are Cinnamon Blueberry Muffins. They are beautiful! Click on the picture or here to get the recipe. For other great and creative recipes as well as stories from an expat, head to Food Lust, People Love.

Guest Posting at Djibouti Jones – A TCK Talks About Raising TCK’s

Today’s post is perhaps the truest piece I’ve ever posted. It is a piece I needed to write and I look forward to hearing from some of you. I’ve included an excerpt here and then I ask you to go to Djibouti Jones to read the rest of the piece.

Just being brought up by people who didn’t and still don’t feel fully here, fully present–that’s very intense,” ….. “It’s not just all about the house we live in and the friends we have right here. There was always a whole other alternative universe to our lives.” from Jhumpa Lahiri: The Quiet Laureate – Time Magazine 2008

English: Maria Spelterini is walking across a ...

If I could pick two words to describe my life they would be the words “Between Worlds”. Like a tightrope walker suspended between buildings, so was my life.  My tightrope was between Pakistan and the United States; between home and boarding; between Muslim and Christian.

Since birth I knew I lived in a culture between – I was a third culture kid.

I realized early in life that airports and airplanes were perfect places of belonging, because I was literally between worlds as I sat in airports, idling the time with my books and my brothers waiting for flights. Or sitting in the airplane, row 33D, buckling and unbuckling while settling in to a long flight.

I always knew I would raise my children overseas. In my mind it was a given. It made complete sense – it was a world I loved and my kids would love it too.

But there is a curious dynamic when an adult third culture kid moves on to raise third culture kids. First off, you transfer your love of travel, adventure, languages, and cross-cultural living. You don’t worry that they will be away from their passport countries, you don’t worry that they’ll miss aunts and uncles. You know theirs is a life that few have, and even fewer understand but you also know that in many areas the benefits outweigh the deficits.

So I was set. My world was a world of expat comings and goings, making friends with Egyptians, conjugating verbs in Arabic classes, and attending events at international schools. It was a world of change and transience and we were at home within that transience. We didn’t name the losses – we didn’t think there were any.

But then we moved. We left our home in Cairo of 7 years, our life overseas of 10 years, and moved to a small town in New England. A town that boasted community and Victorian homes, a small school and tidy lawns. A town with white picket fences and white faces……..Read More Here!

And There are Floods in Djibouti

I am tired.

The ‘luminous foundation’ that makes television people look so pretty can’t hide the shadows under my eyes. After a delightful Easter weekend my head aches from the traffic on the highway getting home; from listening to The Clash full blast to pass the time; from Easter candy that looks so pretty in the bowl and feels so rotten in my stomach (because I am who I am and I overindulged.) It’s an Easter Hangover – but not the sort you are supposed to have where the glory of Easter moves into the Monday beyond.

I have my head full of all kinds of petty, so hard to get rid of petty. I feel exiled and frustrated and full of – I’ll say it – first world problems.

And then I remember there are floods in Djibouti. A place where it doesn’t rain — one of the hottest places on earth. Djibouti – a country that is often forgotten when naming countries in the African continent. Djibouti – where poverty abounds and most could care less.

Djibouti – where floods, even small ones, cause massive problems.

English: Mosque in Djibouti city, January 2008

“When there is no rain for so long, drainage clogs and people set up homes in precarious places, lulled into security. We had been in Djibouti less than four months when the last flood came through and killed more than 500 people in 2004. That year we lived on the upper level of a duplex and stood with our landlord’s family downstairs, watching the water rise more than three feet inside their house. This flood isn’t as massively catastrophic, but to people who have lost everything, there is no difference.” From Djibouti Jones

I need my ‘floods in Djibouti’ moments. They bring me back to reality. They remind me to pray. They push me to flush narcissism down the toilet. They tell me this world is big and God is bigger – and it matters to him that there are floods in Djibouti. It matters to him that people who have nothing are losing even more. These moments remind me that the circles under my eyes are merely circles – that I will get a good night sleep and they will go away.

That my energy and attention had best be spent on finding my Djibouti, finding those in my area that the floods of life have overwhelmed.

“This is the week of Easter, this is the week of miracles and resurrection. For many in Djibouti, this is a week of loss and grief. Pray for those who have lost so much. May God have mercy.” Rachel Pieh Jones

Blogger’s Note: If you haven’t already made your way over to Djibouti Jones – I urge you to do so. Rachel Pieh Jones and her husband have lived in Djibouti for over 12 years and I believe her perspective on life and faith will resonate with readers of Communicating Across Boundaries. She views the world through a much-needed cross-cultural lens. More importantly she communicates this view through all her writing.

Wrapping Up the Week 3.2.13

I’m couch-bound so it affords a perfect opportunity to sit back and wrap up the week. Remember the Ugly, Beautiful Scars? Well – we’re waiting to see just how ugly, beautiful this one is. Surgery was yesterday and yes, there will be a blog post. There is something terrifying and lonely as you gaze up at bright operating room lights and you realize you are completely out of control. And then you remember that, lonely as you are, there is One present who knew you before you were born and your nervous heart and anxious mind begin to rest in His care….(to be continued!)

On to the weekend wrap up.

On human trafficking: In the west it is easy to armchair simplify some of the problems in the world. From poverty to health care to world hunger we want big, sweeping, answers and progress. We want people to make healthy choices without considering some of the obstacles that could prevent them from making those choices – for instance, having to take three buses to get to a grocery store, yet McDonald’s is across the street and offers a full stomach and 1400 calories for $1.49 plus tax. And that’s only one small example. I believe human trafficking is one of those issues that our limited vision sees as one-dimensional. We’d love to swoop in and rescue, but usually these problems are far more complex. In the article You Can’t End Human Trafficking Without Ending Hunger the author points to the desperation created by poverty and hunger. Desperation that can lead to the unthinkable. Take a look and see what you think.

On rice: Even as hunger looms as a world-wide problem, there are glimmers of hope. India’s Rice Revolution tells the story of a “Miracle Village” in Bihar that has set a record for growing rice – all with no artificial herbicides. It has scientists and food experts around the globe cautiously excited. Could this be an answer to world hunger? I don’t know enough about it, but the article is hopeful and a great read.

On birthing children in faraway places: This article is an older article found through a new blog. Rachel lives in Djibouti and blogs from Djibouti Jones – Life at the Crossroads of Faith & Culture. I have loved perusing through her blog and I think you will as well. The article I read resonated fully with me as I gave birth to one child in Pakistan and two in Cairo, Egypt. She chronicles well the process and realization that this child has begun a life between two worlds. Take a look at A Child of Two Worlds published in the New York Times.

2013-02-26-mlady1On Family Pride: My daughter-in-law Lauren turned 25 this week. We are so honored to be a part of her family. Lauren is an amazing, talented actor and this week her improv group, M’Lady, was featured in the Huffington Post. Take a look here at The Oscars Improvaganza. Their group is the first one featured. We are so proud of her and this group so if you live or visit Los Angeles, think about going to the show!

On my bedside stand: I’m immersed in Behind the Beautiful Forevers. It is so well written; poignant and heart piercing. To end this weekend wrap-up I leave you with some words to draw you in:

“Asha grasped many of her own contradictions, among them that you could be proud of having spared your offspring hardship while also resenting them for having been spared.”

Thank you for reading and engaging in Communicating Across Boundaries!