Saturday, December 12, 2009

School Days

Today, full of Ciprofloxacin and so feeling okay, I went to visit an after-school center for children that is run by a friend of a colleague. Man, the kids were cute. Very smart. They were doing presentations – in French – about what they want to be when they grow up. Journalist – Doctor – CEO – Businesswoman – Pastor – President. They asked me questions – in broken English – about myself and my home. “What are the names of your brothers and sisters?” (They reacted with shock when I said I was an only child.) “Are you a bachelor?” (I explained that men are bachelors and I am a bachelorette.) “What state are you from? Who is the governor there?” (That was embarrassing. I guessed that it was Ed Rendell but said that I wasn’t positive.) The kids then went on to recite the countries of Africa, their capitals, and their presidents (heightening my embarrassment over the “governor of Pennsylvania” question). And then at the end, one teenage girl, who was quickly outgrowing the clothes she was wearing, recited a long segment of Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have A Dream speech, in English.

When people at home picture people in Eastern Congo, they envision starvation and violence and rape. But there’s a lot of normal beautiful life, here, too.

I’m going back next week to do an English lesson. I asked the kids what they want to learn. “Stories.” “Practice with passive and active voices.” “The conditional tense.” “The story of Obama.” I’m excited to research lesson plans.


And right now I am listening to the trumpets playing Taps at the MONUC base two compounds down while the sun spreads orange out over great lake Kivu.