Friday, May 28, 2010

Fanta and tee shirts

I stood there underneath a tree, racking my mind, while 60 people sipping fantas blankly stared at me. The men sat on benches, while the women sat on mats on the ground. The women wore an odd mix of traditional dresses with American tee shirts over them. Those women represent what Africa has become, a continent unsatisfied with their own culture, desperately trying to become like America. In there attempts it has become a mixed culture. If only they realized how beautiful their culture is. I cleared my throat and became teaching them about washing their hands. They all smiled and nodded after my translator had finished. One man stood up and asked me how many times Americans wash their hands every day.
I have African fever. I love it here and never want to leave. It's a little overwhelming, seeing poverty up close- just on the other side of our fence. But I've found peace and happiness among the poorest of the poor. I've seen creativity as people work hard to make their lives more meaningful. I've seen joy as children dance to the beating of the drums.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

American worship

I sat on a moldy brown couch, scrambling to start the conversation. I frantically looked at the only other white person in the room. After a few minutes of eye communication, I started taking to the room at large about a writing contest. My proposal was met with blank stares, as the two teachers and principal contemplated what I had just suggested. After a few moments, they warmed up to the idea and got excited. They looked to me for all the answers. Me. A 20 year old student who doesn't really know what she wants out of life. They had spent years, working in schools, and they thought I was an expert. The meeting continued in this manner. I would ask questions. They would respond, but ultimately looked to me as the authority. Pastor Francis said " I know you are concerned with doing things in accordance with our culture, but we want to learn from your culture. What makes American students smarter than us? What can we do to be smarter than you?"
I was floored. Just because we have white skin and money, an intelligent man thinks that we are smarter than them.
I felt smaller by the minute and left my first meeting feeling overwhelmed.
I know I am no god or expert, but I do know that I can offer all my knowledge about writing and creativity in the classroom. But only time will tell.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

bended knees

I sat across from a beautiful African girl. She asked me, why do muzungus have hair? And I really couldn't answer her, Africans are so much smarter than us. She told me about school and what she was learning. She spoke with such good english, I knew that she was clever, much clever than me who after 6 years cannot speak more than a few sentences in German. She told me about the food she makes and I couldn't even desribe the food I make... mac and cheese, are you kidding me? She asked me how many children were women supposed to produce. She told of her desire to go to America and go to university, but she had no money. She touched my pale skin and I touched hers and that's when I knew that she was my African equivilent. I told her that people in America did everything they could to get dark skin like hers. She was floored, she said, Americans want to be black?? If I went to America they would want to be me? I didn't want to correct her because I wanted it to be true. I still don't know if I did the right thing, but hopefully I did not murder her dreams.
Last week I was humbled when my best friend asked me, on bended knee, to spend forever with him. Just one week later a small Ugandan girl, with that same action, begged me just to touch my hand. So much has happened in this one week, but already I feel like I did nothing to enjoy the luxury that I enjoy.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Oh sweet irony

Dear readers,

I know we seldom update this blog, but I would like to refer you to the post before this. The dear author, Miss Stack, has caught the disease and will soon be Mrs. Gillis.

Sincerely yours,
Miss Garfield