First day at work.

I met the whole staff.  Again, warm, beautiful people.  Everyone here is so dedicated to providing an opportunity for these kids to learn.  I will have to dedicate an entire post on how it’s is kind of a mind trip for me.  I’m constantly mentally juxtaposing this against my experience at the Gary Comer Youth Center on Chicago’s south side.  It has really hit me.  Wow.  Almost to the point of misty tears how common the human experience is.  We all, in our hearts share fundamental truths.  Yes, make no mistake about it, these children face a reality and future I wouldn’t wish on anyone.  and yes, those kids in Chicago HAVE NO IDEA how lucky they are.  Even in their own trials and tribulations.  I want to find and interview a someone who grew up in an American ghetto now working (or fighting) here.  I want to know if some of the same things have HIT them the way they’ve hit me.  It’s…. wow.  Words escape me.

Okay, I’m going to iCry on the outside now.  So best to switch to lighter topics.

I haven’t actually taught a class yet, but all the anticipation is killing me.  We’ve done lots of planning and organizing to be ready.  We’ve got deliverables we owe to the grant we got – so we must get the kids to finish their projects – while also actually making sure it does what we’re saying it does.  On the surface, I get how people think sports and art are just superfluous  That they are distractions while there is a reality happening when the kids go home that we’re ignoring.  Please listen to me.  In the couple of days I’ve been here, I’ve seen street kids whose lives have forever been changed by the “free” feeling from skating.  How, they won’t be outside finding opium or glue to sniff because they’re in here exercising.  You want to know how powerful the art of climbing a wall is?  Look at a kid who is perhaps full of anger, or hurt, or who lacks any self efficacy who climbed one and tell me it doesn’t change something in them.  Please explain to me how having a form of expression doesn’t provide a forum for kids to emotionally, mentally, and intellectually deal with some of the issues they face.

Yes, they may be hungry for dinner tonight and maybe even breakfast in the morning.  But I tell you this – they’ve learned some skills and there’s a positive fire I hope burning in their belly.  I hope if nothing else, they’ll continue this work after we’ve all left.

I’m SOOOOOOOOOO  happy to be able to joke with the kids – to laugh- and to show them in a sort of unspoken way women aren’t so bad.  We can work together, build & learn together while still respecting religious views in fact.  I can’t wait to witness more – to see how the kids grow in my time here.

The Afghan kids have got a handshake I love…. kinda reminds me of long ago Gary days.  I was nervous about my brownness, but as far as I can tell, nobody cares.   They tease and cheer me when I do my wibbly wobbly skating exercises.  (Yes, I dunno if I’ve mentioned it, but I’m also learning to skateboard while here.  LMBO.  SO thankful my mamma took out that insurance on me….. um.  yeah.)

There’s a mickey mouse running around the office.  I can’t help but giggle whenever this one German insists on calling them “mouses.”  He took great pains to explain to me why “mice” simply doesn’t make any sense, and he’ll be sticking to “mouses” thankyouverymuch.

On that note, it’s been interesting to realize that in a way, I am the one with the strange accent.  For all the chit chatting floating around my head, everyone else’s pronunciations of words, idioms, slang, etc are all shared with the group.  Hmmm.  This is a difficult concept to describe.  But basically, my American english is the weird one.  My slang or jokes oftentimes just don’t translate – where their odd phrasings and strange verb conjugations work just fine… as if it’s the queen’s english.  It’s so crazy because really, I’m enjoying every minute of this.  These kids will go on with a German version of English.  It will be interesting to come back years down the road to hear how this “patwa” of English as told through Germans tongues travels.

Food.  The food here is good.  The thing is… hmm.  It’s interesting how when you’re in a new situation your relationship with things changes.  My relationship with food has completely changed.  I just eat when there’s food around and honestly only eat enough to not be hungry.  Unlike a diet or how we’re so prone to doing stateside, I kind of just don’t care.  Like – just don’t care.  I eat to not be hungry & enjoy when it tastes good.  But honestly, there are soooo many other things going on, that I’m not really as much all about the food as I thought I’d be.

On the other hand what has been a liberating experience here is not caring what I look like.  Wait.  I do care. My body is clean clean, and I’m neat, and I think I wear nice clothes.  But…. I don’t care about it as much.  We’ll play, run, skate, skip, and do all sorts of things and I could give a care how I look.  I put on the same dusty pants from yesterday knowing I’d be on the ground today, and it truly doesn’t matter.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love being pretty.  I so look forward to dressing up again one day.  But right now, it’s fun to kind of be a kid right now in that way.

Learning Report:

  • Blowing your nose is highly offensive/funny to Afghans.  Don’t do it.
  • Keep that bootay (especially if it is black girl juicy) COVERED.
  • I can say “how are you” & “I’m well” in Dari.  Um. Yeah.
  • I’ve learned that a little dirt isn’t going to kill me.  Hand sanitizer’s good, but I’m getting over some of my germophobe attitudes about certain things.  Lack of hot water will do that.
  • I think the secret mission of western folk is to save every dog in the world.  Seriously.  Okay.  I suppose that’s racist (Well, not really, because I have a black friend who does this too)…, so I suppose I have to take it back. But man alive these folks want to save another dog and add it to the two we already have.  I only experience these sorts of dog explosions around western (yeah you know how I mean it) people.  We had this same problem in Mexico with our American crew hiding the local stray dogs in their honeywagons.  Gross.
  • More German words I think I know.  Well, I have to do recaps everyday so it’ll stick.  Man I wish this were like that one movie where you could just upload stuff into your brain.
  • I’m going to always hold on to the idea of being thankful for the resources I have at home.  The power here cycled on and off all day.  Having constant access to power, let alone internet is a luxury.  Truly it is.  On that note, the sidecar  lesson to that idea (and probably more important) is patience.  At home, I’d be livid if my lights kept behaving like this.  But just rolling with the ups and downs of what you can’t control is really a lesson I’m going to concentrate on mastering here.
  • Skating – So I was all proud of myself, for my new skills…but yesterday I was going back and forth getting my footing right.  Then – one of the instructors thought maybe, just maybe I could go down a small ramp.  BAD IDEA.  All I remember was looking at the fell really hard on my face and side.  It hurts to eat and brush my teeth…. um.  Yeah, I got back up and kept going.  But it is pretty painful.  I think that’s what it means to be an athlete?  I’m not really athletic…  but I am really having fun learning to skate.

Ok, it’s F.R.E.E.Z.I.N.G. in here.  Since this is an athletic organization, that means it’s exercise time in the park.  Uuuuh.  ooookaaayyy… LOL.  Well, I’m for certin 😉 that it will work…  I’m just so sore from falling during my skate classes and, and… you know, all my complaints make me sound like an old lady.  Let me git up off mah butt and join the group… toodles!

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