Posts Tagged ‘disconnect’

Posts Tagged ‘disconnect’

Waking Up.

5.28.2010 | 0 Comments

I happened to walk past the used book store on the weekend, and I saw a book entitled ‘My Maasai Life’. I went home, looked the book up on-line, and saw that it was the story of a young woman who made the choice to live with a Maasai family in Kenya for a year. The reviews were good, the premise seemed really interesting, and it seemed to appeal to me very much. So, yesterday as I was walking by the same used book store I went in and bought the book.

I started reading it as soon as I got home. I read the intro, read the dedication, read the front and back covers inside and out, and then I began reading the book. Right from the start this young woman’s story called to me. There was just something about it that fit with me, something that made me feel like I could be her, and that I could have written that book. I was engrossed! So engrossed, in fact, that it wasn’t until page nine that I realized that the author’s name was Robin.

Instantly I saw how completely disconnected I truly am.

I need to wake up. If I’m going to experience life-changing moments, I need to be not just open to them, but I actually need to be aware of them.

Something else in this book shocked me back into reality, and made me feel truly embarrassed about myself at the same time. Robin was relating her first experiences with the street children in Nairobi, Kenya, and how she had never witnessed such poverty, such need, such desperation. These children had nothing. Truly had nothing; no home, no clothing, no food, no money, no family. The one thing they possessed was the survival instinct, and that often took the form of violence. These children had nothing.

And as horrified as I was reading her accounts, the one thing that struck me was this: those children, with nothing, in the middle of Nairobi, from wretchedly poor families, growing up in the slums before running to the street… those children spoke English.

They spoke English.

I was instantly ashamed of myself.

My first thought was that I was grateful that there was a good chance that I would meet some English-speaking people in Tanzania and Rwanda that could help me if I needed it. My second thought was that I was such a pretentious North American jackass, that I was happy to assume that people from another country would be proficient enough in English to assist me. For MY sake.

I’m going to THEIR country. My god, shouldn’t I at least learn the basics of their language? Yes. Yes, I should.

Today I am going to contact a woman who teaches Swahili. Not everyone in Tanzania and/or Rwanda speaks Swahili, but at least I’ll be able to get by somewhat, and I’ll feel more like a human being who has respect for other human beings. What right do I have to simply assume that others should speak MY language in THEIR country, simply for my comfort?

I have a lot to learn…