Today in class we discussed how to gain access to a community and become accepted. First, there are many things we need to work around: gatekeepers who protect public places and social situations, aspects of ourselves we cannot change like our gender and age, and how we present ourselves. Ashley pointed out that we are not camping and we need to take car of our appearance because this can really affect how well people accept us.
I started thinking of how I can enter the Tibetan community. I was hoping that everyone would be warm and welcoming, but I’m beginning to come to my senses and realize this isn’t true. I wouldn’t be particularly warm and welcoming if a foreign person wanted to come ask me what I ate every day. I would be civil. I think that is what I should hope for in the beginning. As I am there longer and interact with people more then hopefully they will allow me more access. I’m hoping to meet people through my host family or by walking around on the street. Maybe while I’m in a market I can ask some people questions about the different foods there and I can make acquaintances that way.
I am definitely going to work to take care of my appearance. I don’t want to appear as a smelly student. I want people to take me seriously. This doesn’t mean I will fix my hair and wear make up, but I will dress appropriately and wash my face and shower as often as is typical in that community.