I remember this day very clearly. I was humbled, I was teary-eyed, and I reeked of onions. A friend of mine was getting married and some team-mates and I volunteered to help. I learned very quickly that volunteering to help for an American friend's wedding is much different than helping with an Ethiopian friend's wedding. Thier wedding celebrations last for days and preparation takes even longer. We gathered with the women in her family to start the food prep. My first task was to clean up the carrots. Sounded simple and I was confident. I actually love to cook and felt like I could make a decent contribution to the work. However, I learned that my ways aren't really acceptable among most Ethiopian women.
They fired me from carrots.
It was pretty humbling to have this elderly Ethiopian woman show me up at carrot cleaning. They decided I was shaving off too much of the carrot (but inside the foriegner in me was saying "get ALL the dirt off so that these people dont' get sick!"). But they were loosing too much carrot on account of me so they demoted me to onion chopping. Once again, my onion chopping skills didn't compare to the Ethiopian ladies. They used these crazy curly knives that I didn't even know how to hold and they were super fast. They laughed at my methods and were amused at my child-like pace. So, maybe I wasn't that helpful after all, but, apparently I provided plenty of entertainment!