Today I am not feeling well. A combination of getting too run-down, hard traveling over the weekend (and I didn’t sleep so well at the hotel), and then maybe eating something that didn’t quite agree with me (but not full-blown food poisoning, thank goodness) and maybe also a touch of a cold as well. All of this can happen in Texas or Ghana or wherever. What is cultural is how one deals with not feeling well.
In the US we are trained to grin and bear it, take two Tylenol and come to work anyway, all the while letting people know that we are sick but at work anyway, because we’re true professionals who don’t let anything but hospitalization or having a majorly contagious disease stand in our way of work.
In Ghana, not so much. If you’re sick, you stay home. Period. My guess is it’s because life is hard enough here, we don’t need sick people walking around spreading their germs in an already tough environment. But whatever the reason, when I say I am not feeling well today, the response is a quizzical ‘so why are you here? Go home!’ I guess I’m here because I’m American and it just seems wrong to lie in bed when I have responsibilities, like teaching. Plus we have a field trip tomorrow and I needed to send a final confirmation email and such. And I had a meeting. But, in truth, there would be no lasting damage if I stayed home today, and I probably would have gotten well sooner. So, while coming in today was definitely non-Ghanaian, I think I like the Ghanaian way better. And in fact, I am going home soon to rest.