Thursday, September 20, 2007

Birthday Parties and Community Projects

Hello everyone, I recieved your greetings from Cassie if you visited with him at NCCC and also met Simon this week, I know he was with you also. Simon and his team trained us here in a series of 8 workshops this week, what an incredible man he is. My time at ALICT is two thirds complete. The learning we have done here has really been unique. They expect so much and facilitate learning in very unsual and experiacial ways. This has been really effective for me even though it is challenging. The navigating and working in this kind of extream diversity has given me more than a year of intercultural course work could. It continues to be one of the greatest experiances of my life and without question a privledge. Let me share one thing that has been very special to me.

I am heading up our "Social Events" committee which consists of two other student one from Latin America and one from Ethopia. Basically we plan Birthday Parties which consist of putting up streamers, giving some small item as a gift, having our Auntie Zena (who cooks for us) bake a cake, blowing out candles, prayer for the person celebrated and singing "Happy Birthday". We sing two ties in English, two times in French and two times in Spanish. We celebrated our third and final birthday on the 17th and I have to tell you these parties have been one of the most significant experiances I have had here. Africans, generally, do not celebrate their birthdays. In fact some have never attended a celebration like this for themselves or anyone else. One of the men we celebrated was turning 35, he is from Ivory Coast. He thanked us in tears and could not believe that we would honor him in this way or celebrate his life as such a special thing. He explained that there had been some foriegners in his counrty many years ago who had given him a birthday party, but that this one was the second he had ever experiance. We celebrated his life and his friendship together and the group lifted him to thier shoulders and surrounded him with hugs. And he cried. It was one of the most significant moments of his life, one he will never forget.

For a moment I wanted to devote my life to ensuring every child in the world had the opprotunity to experiance at least one birthday party. It had never occured to me that the majority of children in the world will never have their life celebrated in this way. We spend unreal amounts of money on children birthdays how can it be that so many never have this simple gift----I want to write more, but I have to go---I will add/edit later. I love you all.