Friday, March 16, 2012

Just Follow The Yellow Brick Road!

Just like people here have no sense of time, they also have no sense of giving directions. They just point and say “over there,” or “this or that side.” I don't even think their pointing is accurate.  My counterpart, Seo, who is a very smart lady, invited me to her sisters wedding in Kanye last weekend.   I asked her where in Kanye it was, her reply to me was “the other side.” The other side of what?  Needless to say, I did not go to the other side or any side of Kanye that day. This is how it is, but I'm going to divert for a moment--- on this day, walking 45 minutes in wind and heat, up to the primary school, I am greeted by a teacher who says how happy he is to see me, can I please help out today. “Help with what!” “It is cultural day and we don't know what to do.” “Well, how long have you known about this? Since January.  My, my, why didn't you plan for it?” “Because it was today.” Ok, I get it, it's the African time thing. The kids are all practicing the only dance in Botswana, because that is all they know.  So I go to my class, which has moved and combined with another class---the teacher got transferred, and the new teacher is overwhelmed, so I can't do my NY correspondence with this class anymore.  These kids are also practicing the one Botswana dance, and the teacher says, “can you help us with cultural day?” “So when did you know about cultural day?” “Since January.” “Why didn't you think about this even, let's say, last week?” “Uh, because it was today.” What on earth—do they all sit and practice the same lines just to get us Americans laughing or what!

Off I go to find a small class that will play correspondence with me. Ah, a teacher who is thrilled, Excellent!  I tell the class what the other class did, and attempt to show them the family tree booklet that the NY class did. Big Mistake! I was bombarded by 20 little people, squished up against the wall with nowhere to go, and with them pointing and going nuts over stick figure moms and dads. Teacher doesn't help out here, and I'm thinking about screaming, but no, I would just fit right in! Once I'm released, I ask her about this cultural thing. She says in a forlorn matter that they just have no idea what to do. Seriously, I have the slightest idea how these people function. So I throw out some ideas, and then I ask how on earth these kids walk home, I know there must be a short cut. The teacher points and says “over there, just follow the road.” “You mean, over there, just follow the yellow brick road.” “Huh, no, I mean over there.” Whatever happened to showing people the great and wonderful Wizard of Oz! What ever happened to humor!

Off I go to find the Yellow Brick Road, when the head of school stops me. She wants to post my family tree booklet on a wall, but has no idea where to put it.  I just look her straight in the eye and say, “how 'bout over there!” Good idea she says! Geez oh mighty, I wasn't even pointing or looking anywhere, and they have a concept of where over there is.  She then walks me to this room and says, “do you know what this is?” “Well, yeah, I think it's a library.” “You're right, now what can you do with it?” Whaaat? Is this like what can I do with cultural day?  She says, “don't you think the kids should be able to come in here and read?” Dare I ask how long this room has been here?  “At least 5 years!” “I've got it, maybe for cultural day, you should line up the kids and show them the world of books, whatta think!” By the way, since you are the head of this school, can you please tell me the short cut home. Sure, she pulls me outside, points, and says “that side, over there.” Excellent!

Here I go, skipping to the YBR, and knowing that I don't need courage or a heart because, hey, I left money, a house, my comfy life, to come “over here” to do good will!  I got it though, I NEED A BRAIN to figure out why I am “over here!” That's exactly what I'll ask for if I ever find OZ!  I'm walking along, and lo and behold, a fork in the path---they didn't tell me which way to go, and there's no scarecrow to help with a decision, I don't have my brain yet, and nobody is speaking english up here. I spin around and trust that this way is “over there.” It's getting a little spooky here, with fewer homes, blistering heat and wind, and over there seems to be nowhere.   If the wicked witch starts flying overhead, I'm in big trouble! I ask myself yet again, why I'm not in Thailand where people are organized, have vibrant markets, would laugh at following the YBR, even if they didn't know what it was!  But no, "I'm over here!"

 Finally, after one and a half hours of this so called short cut, I see the light---my white house with the green roof, with a floppy dog ear hanging over the porch...I run and run....Keoki I'm home, I'm “over there”---oh Keoki, there's no place like over there!

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