A Meditation on the Rwandan Belch

Some members of my family have accused me of becoming increasingly coarse since coming to Rwanda. Some people might say that writing a blog post about burping could only add fuel to that fire. But, I say this is anthropology. I bring you this information only in the interest of science.

It never ceases to amaze me the way Rwandans will burp, loudly and longly, and nobody will react. Somebody you’re talking to will burp mid-sentence, mid-word even and continue without apology. In a way, it’s understandable. Burping is a fact of life, so why make a big deal out of it?

But, what will never cease to amaze me is the way students (almost always girls — why is that?) burp in class and nobody reacts. Think about yourself as a 7th-grader and imagine a student in class burping. But not just burping, burping so loudly, aggressively and flagrantly that it almost reaches the level of performance art. Now imagine no one reacting. Wouldn’t that seem weird to you?

Coming from the US, I assumed that burping is an inherently funny (and/or socially akward) activity. And, obviously, a student burping in the middle of class while 35 other 12-yar olds are quietly copying notes from the board is awkwardly hilarious, right? At least for the other seventh graders. But, no. I routinely stand at the board, hear a student belch profusely behind me and marvel inwardly at the tranquil silence which follows.

Who knew? Culture is a crazy thing.

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2 thoughts on “A Meditation on the Rwandan Belch

  1. I suppose in a glass half full sort of way, you can be thankful considering the alternative method of releasing gas build up.

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