It is interesting to be where I don't speak the language or know the culture, and am so conspicuously different from the local population. The word mzungu is an objective name used to identify white people, or people of European origin, generally without distain. People are friendly, and little children call me bobu which means grandfather, because of my white beard.
Understanding the culture means understanding the language. So I am challenged with both the local culture and the culture of the scientists I work with. I am not a biological scientist. My PhD specialty is in communication, media, and semiotics. Each cultural group speaks and acts based on assumptions that they share with others already familiar with the language and behaviors that unify them as a group. I interact with local culture and our scientists everyday in town, in the lab, and on the lake. Observation, time and experience will hopefully provide understanding.