A: Where are we?
Expert: We are in the teacher’s compound of a World Bank secondary school in sub-Saharan Africa.
Expert: We are in the teacher’s compound of Nchelenge World Bank secondary school in the Luapula province in northern Zambia.
A: Why are you here?
Expert: I have been stationed here as an expert by Danida, the organisation for Danish International Development Assistance. I teach religion and history at the school.
A: Can you tell me about the school?
Expert: It is a boarding school with around 400 pupils from different provinces in the country. It was built in the late 60s.
A: Who lives in the compound?
Expert: The teachers from the school. They are Irish, British, Dutch, German, Danish, Indian, and Zambian. Around 35 families. It is quite mixed.
A: What is this?
Expert: We are building an open rondavel, a traditional hut in the garden of our house in the compound.
Expert: Almost everybody in the compound has a hut like this in their garden, like a little pavilion. It is nice to sit inside; you can be outside and in the shade at the same time. It is a small version of the ones they have in the African villages.
A: How do you spend your time?
Expert’s wife: I take care of the household and the children. When everything gets to be too much and I need a break, I go for a walk between the huts in the local villages and get glimpses of everyday life there. That is very relaxing.
I tried to go there and draw, but it felt much too intrusive. And it was difficult to have a circle of 20 children around me, wondering about this strange white woman with nothing better to do than to put lines on a piece of paper. I soon gave that up.
A: How much contact do you have with the local population?
Expert: I have brought my enlarger and chemicals with me from Denmark to set up a darkroom where I can develop the photographs I take. People ask me to take their picture, of themselves or their family. I prefer to do portraits, but mostly people want pictures in full figure in front of their house and with their most important possessions. Usually I take some portraits as well. Mostly people don’t notice anyway. Then I give them a copy of the picture they wanted and keep the portrait for my own collection. After a while people started asking me to come to weddings and parties.
A: Did you dream anything?
The Expert: Yes. I dreamt that I had applied for a job with the United Nations in Somalia. I got the job and thought to myself that it must be very hot there. And it was - when I arrived it was extremely hot.
But at the same time a very Danish landscape opened up before me. Somalia was a green, hilly country with fields and crops that could have been Danish.