Being an American

This friend request ain't on Facebook

Rebecca Jacobson
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As a foreigner in Malawi, locals will be eager to chat with you. Amusing and even enlightening conversations often result, but you can also expect a number of unusual or uncomfortable requests. “I want you to be my friend” is one particularly common appeal. Though some Malawians may harbor a genuine interest in you, such requests are often entreaties for money, food, or use of your cell phone. Others may assume you can finagle American visas for them, or even ask you for a job (not having one myself, this is an easy question to deflect). Rather than cutting off the conversation or outright rejecting calls for friendship, be friendly and firm. Don’t feel guilty about changing the topic, and remember, laughter does wonders.

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