Through countless Uno games (Matt and Kira) and a dance party with traditional African dancers, I’ve learned that everyone on this trip is pretty awesome.
Yesterday we were given a walking tour of our surrounding village by our tour guide, “I am called Abraham.” I had a conversation with Abraham about the village’s trade system. Each family has a sprawling series of huts, male children adding more huts upon getting married. The families each own a certain crop, such as mangoes or cabbage, and they take that crop into the “shop,” a trading-post like building in the middle of the village. There, they exchange their crops, which seems like a very functional system.
Also on that walk, we hung out with the kids and ran into a group of teenagers playing football (soccer). We joined in and were severely outmatched.
Today, I got to test out my skills on the giant Panasonic camera during a few amazing interviews. Since I’m one of the only other Photojournalism majors, Tim’s having Peter teach me how to use it, and it makes me feel very professional. I got to have complete control over the machine during the interviews at the Rachelle school, including the former child soldier. Sometimes I worry that seeing this whole thing through a camera will discount it in some way, disconnect me more than my cultural instincts already do.
Our fifth interview today was with an inspirational woman named Mama Angelina. To get to her, we took a red dirt road riddled with pot holes deep into the jungle. It began to rain, so the dirt became too wet to drive on and we hiked the remainder of the way to her house. Hiking through a lush African forest, passing makeshift huts and people working the earth was a very unique experience. When we got there, a woman in full, bright blue, regalia emerged from a home and gave every one of us a long, warm handshake. She presented us with a large tray of mangoes, freshly picked from a tree we were sitting by. They were juicy and delicious, and I will certainly be disappointed if I ever eat an American mango again. She sent us off with the message of, “hold another youth’s hand, they will hold another’s, and you will touch the youth of the world. You’re never alone.” Everyone should Google her story, she’s an incredible woman. I think all of us can benefit from who she is.
So, we are meeting some of the greatest people. Overall, they are teaching me how little physical things matter, and how much compassion a person can possess. The connecting thread through all of their beliefs seems to be that forgiveness is the only way to peace.