Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

"No ESL class on Sunday the 21st."

"Miss Teachah, why please?"

"We will be having another Pot Luck dinner", I glance at Divine, "Remember when you made Fru Fru for everyone?" She had made a traditional African bread of water and corn flour for the last dinner.

Everyone excitedly nodded,"Ah, the time we all eat together?"

"Yes, only this time, it will be a Thanksgiving celebration for the church."

Whispers, questions in Swahili to eachother. "Are we not thankful the other dinners?"

Okay, how to explain an American holiday to people from Rwanda, Congo and Burundi. I take out my trusty white board and dry marker. Lord, guide my hands.

I draw a shape as best I can, then another. "This is America. This is England" I draw a tiny sailboat. "English people sail to America, but they bring not good food with them. Soon, they are like people of Darfur." I draw a sad face with tears to murmers of, "Ahh..."

"The native people of America, teach the English people to plant corn and make corn flour. They teach them to fish and kill turkeys. The English people are happy and ask the native people to eat with them and give thanks." I have drawn many smiley faces around a table.

I think about Thanksgiving, and soon Christmas and realize how much I take for granted. These people are grateful for every meal. Many of them have known hunger for years, and what I am discribing to them must seem so unreal.

To them, hunger in a refugee camp is not big news. So why shouldn't the English people have been hungry when they got off the sailing ship? Not that unusual to them.

But now, "Teachah, if the English are new people, who were the old people who lived here?"

How do I tell victims of civil war that the native people lived here for always then the English (the German, the French, etc.), came and accepted the help of the native people, then stole all that they had?

I think we will just talk about turkey and pumpkin pie today while I pray for wisdom to tell them the other story about the native people.


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