Reporters on the Job

Word Choice: Contributor Michael Kerlin was living with a family in Rwanda when he met the owner of a charcoal business (Page 1). Mike was intrigued to learn that she'd gotten her start with a microloan from the Assembly of God church - one of a growing number of religious groups involved in such development.

His curiosity led him to a meeting outside Kigali of loan-holders. "It was a dusty, bumpy ride, and when I arrived, I discovered that I was the only foreigner, and the only man," Mike says. Twenty-eight women attended, forcing the group to spill out of the house onto the porch.

At first, Mike was worried that his presence was causing people to be circumspect. But then someone sneezed - and Mike caught his break. "I responded with 'uracire' (oh-rah-cheer-ay), the equivalent of 'bless you,' which I had learned," he says. "All the women, many of whom had their kids there, just burst out laughing. Everyone relaxed, and I was able to melt into the background."

Talk Nice: Correspondent Bill Faries says soccer fans in Latin America take their role as fans very seriously (Page 7). "People here are really passionate," he says. "And they're hard on their own teams: They get more upset when their team misses a goal than when the opposing team scores one."

So when an Argentinian player in Brazil made a derogatory comment to a black Brazilian player last month and was detained by Brazilian police, it was big news. "People are now worried what might happen when Brazilians go to Argentina to play," says Bill. "Argentinian coaches have had to make statements that Brazilian players will be respected."

Bill says that Argentinians saw the incident as just another form of trash-talking the opponent to throw him off - not as racism. "But when I talked to Europeans about the issue, they noted that 20 years ago, this kind of thing was common - and that it is no longer tolerated."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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