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mid-week Connect: 8/31/22 ~ Cultural Remembering

Greetings and Happy Midweek!

I got the idea for this Connect when I made a typing mistake recently. Meaning to type ‘memories’ I transposed 2 letters, left off an ‘e’ and typed ‘memoirs’. Before spellcheck could kick in, I was struck that these two words in English are not only almost the same spelling, but they also can provide us today with at least one interesting cultural insight. I place this in the Application component of our Global SKILLs PROACTive strategies, which involves applying mastered skills (for example in language and culture learning) in different cultural contexts.* An essential activity for both memories and memoirs is remembering - a skill which I have found looks very different across cultures.

One favorite example, which I am often ‘reminded’ of (!), is how early on my Jola friends in Senegal used to tease me because I was so bad at remembering who people were in relation to others in any given group. When introduced, as I struggled with who was who, a friend would come to my aid and instantly rattle off long extended lines of family and clan relationships. It would go something like, “Oh, you know, she is so and so’s sister’s father’s second daughter - REMEMBER?”.

My lexical proficiency was such that I knew all the kinship terms (so my memory in that category was ok), and socio-culturally, I usually had some reference points for the individual in question (I interacted with them in the market, or they lived in the compound across from mine). But remembering the intricacies of Jola kinship complexities as part of their identity, while natural and easy for Jolas, was way beyond my skill level in those early years.

SO, one helpful tool I used to master this skill at the time was creating mental ‘memoirs’ about my experiences with people. I would take the time after an interaction to review in my mind their name(s), who they were immediately and distantly related to, and if possible stories about them. While this attention to kinship detail wasn’t necessarily part of my own cultural background, it was in fact a key among the Jolas, as strangers became acquaintances and then close friends, who OF COURSE I would remember as so and so’s father’s aunt’s second wife’s brother!

How about you ~ any cultural remembering skill you’d like to focus in on and sharpen?

Share about that with a friend or note it here.

And check out the Global SKILLs LINKs below for some other cultural memories and memoirs.

Thanks for being part of this Connect community.

Until next week,



~ cultural questions some memoirs help address:

~ a secondary level lesson plan about African kinship in the domain of politics:


* PROACTive Learning Strategies: PRO = PROfile, PROcess, PROgram

ACT = Application (which we explored today), Collaboration and Transformation

~ contact me for more information on these strategies and how you might use them in your current programming

2022 ~ Celebrating 40+ years of working in

intercultural communications and global community building

“It takes a community to build a community”

Please Note: this is copyrighted content.

Please do not reproduce or share without my permission (

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