It takes a village

When I create lessons for Tabesha, specifically when I bring objects and photos for us to discuss and write about, I very intentionally avoid an ethoncentric bias. Meaning, for example, I don't assume we have the same context for even simple words like "store." She's been in the states for eight years now, so we don't loose too much in translation, but I still avoid assumptions.

We had an interesting discussion during our last lesson, a discussion that knocked my mind around a bit and kept my context in check. I brought in a series of pages ripped from magazines. She sifted through them to find a photo she liked and then we were going to write a story about that photo. She picked a spread from Town & Country: a wealthy white woman was walking out the front door of her massive brick-and-shutter house toward the mailbox. We've had writing exercises about homes before and I knew she would have a strong vocabulary base to write a new story about this photo.

I began asking her questions about the photo and writing vocabulary words on our little white board. She reached a point where she stopped and seemed to be thinking about something. I gave her a moment and then asked what she was thinking. She said slowly, "In Africa, we can make any house we want for free. I bet this house is a lot of money." I immediately felt like a jackass for even considering a Town & Country photo (the magazine was inexplicably found in the lobby of my office) and quickly encouraged her to tell me more about her house in Africa.

She said her family built the house they lived in. I asked if she helped build it, if her brothers helped, and she said: "Everyone." I proded, "Everyone in your family? Everyone helped?" "No," she said quickly, shaking her head and audibly chuckling at my ignorance. "Everyone in the village. Everyone in Ndulu. Everyone builds houses for the village. My village built my house and I built their house."

I think that's beautiful.

Pretty much the coolest thing I've ever seen

See for yourself...