Sunday, January 20, 2013

Open Air

“Yo, yo listen up my brothers and my sister. Today I am going on a trip to AC, yeah you heard me de A-city Arusha Town yao. And when I go, you know I’m going to bring…” Florence takes a deep breath before he begins delegating the items he’ll bring for each person, “An apple, a ball, yee, a cat, a dolphin for you my friend, an epo for you, and for myself imma bring…a frog.”
“A what?”
“No, before that.”
“An epo…”
“As in apple?”
All the guys began laughing and lightly teasing Florence for switching to Swahili.
“Bro, I said an elephant, not epo” Kelvin chimed in, between laughs.
As we played from there on out, whenever someone got to E, we all said Epo instead of Elephant, and had a good laugh over it.

Last night after the conference was over, Princely and I rode in the New Life truck to get home. The truck has been running since the 1970s and many times the passenger door opens during the drive, but by some miracle, the truck runs steadily. The open back is often used to carry both people and heavy machinery or materials. Last night we used it to carry the Uzima musical equipment from the conference to the church. After all the instruments were emptied and we were on our way back to New Life, Princely and I hopped in the back of the truck with six New Life students. A fuss was made about me getting back there, “No, no it’s too uncomfortable, sit in the front sit in the front.” But in fact I had a blast.
I showed them the game that I usually play in car rides with my family. The first person says, “I’m going on a vacation to _______ and I’m going to bring (something that begins with an A).” Then the next person says the item from the first person that begins with an A, and adds their own item that begins with a B, and so forth through the whole alphabet. It’s a memory game of sorts.
Had I suggested it to my friends at home, they probably wouldn’t have been interested. But last night, I got the perfect mix where the guys were eager to play, but then they were still goofy and boyish, pretending to act all thug as we played.
It was one of my favorite moments since I have been back because I was able to actually connect with the students on a friend level, which was something I was somewhat nervous to do last time. I thought it was more important to maintain a sense of authority over them, instead of being peers. But we can be both, I think, because I know that if any of them came to me and had something to teach me, I would listen to them. Therefore when Pri and I go to their classes and teach them, they will listen even if they view us as peers.

When they all got out of the truck at New Life, they greeted me goodnight with a “Usikumwema Dada” Sleep tight sister instead of the usual, “Goodbye Madame” and a casual handshake-hug thing as opposed to an actual handshake. As Princely and I rode in the back on the way home, I was all smiles the whole way. He gave me a congratulatory squeeze on my shoulder and without a word he understood.

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