Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Americans on display

I feel like I have fallen through the looking glass and everything has been turned topsy turvy. It has been very amusing but it is still disorientating. Sister Francisca showed us around the Notre Dame school today. We stopped by each class and the children would recite "Good morning Sisters/Aunties. You are welcome and may God bless you." Some of the children were shy and would avoid making eye contact. Others were boisterous and eager to catch our attention. In one classroom the kids swarmed us and everyone gave us a hug. Poor Aubrie walked in first and took the brunt of the onslaught. I thought she was going to be knocked over.

Recess was even more fun. The three of us were walking around the yard when I noticed a gang of kids following. I turned around and like some bizarre Nigerian version of Red light/Green light the children stopped in their tracks. Realizing that they had been caught following us the children broke into nervous laughter. Our game continued on for a few minutes and apparently they found it (or maybe just me) quite funny. When Sister left us alone in the yard the children closed in. Some of the kids started to play what I have dubbed Onyeocha tag. Basically the kids would touch an Onyeocha (white person) and run away.

The craziest reaction came from one little boy in the nursery classroom (ages three and four). We walked in the classroom and he started crying. He tried to hide behind the teacher's skirts and just balled. When Sister tried to tell him that we were his friends he shouted that "They are NOT my friends and I am going to tell my mommy." Someone later suggested that his reaction was simply because he was new and he had probably seen white people before. I might have accepted that explaination except that in the last two days I have seen only two other white people and one was a nun. I felt a little bad that Aubrie and I had terrified some poor kid but mostly I found the whole situation amusing.

I do have a new appreciation for the animals at the zoo. Hopefully tomorrow there will be a little less gawking.

1 comment:

  1. Katie, your entries here give me a new appreciation for the things I have today: two inches of snow on the ground, a nice comfy shower, and that I don't use coconut shampoo. Well, it's more than that, but you get my drift.

    I also appreciate the detail of which you're describing your first days in Africa, and hope you continue giving us such great insight into the story of "how you got there." Your humor has me laughing out loud here at work (shhh, don't tell). Hope too that you'll be able to keep up that sense of humor as the days and weeks pass.

    Know that we're all thinking of you and praying for your success in doing God's work, and for the safety of all of you there. Take care, Katie. Will be in touch again soon....

    Peace...and DeColores!
    Karen Przybylski