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How often do you talk to your mom? | 04 juli 2019

Ottelien Mol is currently doing her internship in South Africa. Read her lovely blog about collectivism and taking care of each other.

How often did you see your mom the last half-year? Probably twice a month? At least, I don’t see my parents that often. If I see them every other week than that’s already a lot.

I'm just really busy......

Now that I’m in South Africa, I obviously don’t see my parents at all. When I tell my colleagues that I live on my own in Maastricht and that I don’t visit my parents regularly, they think I’m crazy. Don’t you miss your parents a lot? No not really actually, I’m just really busy so I don’t have time to think about it…

We instead of I

My colleagues can’t even imagine this. Almost all of them live close to their parents and also see them several times a week. They take care of each other when needed and they will always be close to each other. The collectivism that people experience here in South Africa is just way greater than we know it in Europe. As Europeans we are more individualistic while citizens of South Africa rather talk in the context of ‘we’ than ‘I’. South Africans look after each other, especially in the Xhosa culture.

"I am because we are"

In addition, in Xhosa there is even a saying for their collectivism: Ubuntu, meaning ‘I am because we are.’ The people who are living in the Xhosa culture, really live in a community. If someone needs to make a resume, but doesn’t have a computer, their neighbour will make the resume for them at their work. Even when your mom is sick, it is more likely to call in sick yourself as well, just so you can take care of her. These are just a few examples of how people act here. For us it’s not so common, but when you think about it, it’s not even that weird. It is nice that people take care of their family, neighbours, colleagues or just the people in need. There is nothing wrong with collectivism; it is just not our culture.

But now I know, when I am back in The Netherlands I might just visit my mom a little more often!

Credits: Ottelien Mol, 2nd year student of Hotel Management School Maastricht


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