My job has brought me in contact with several thousand students from all over the world. I’ve grown tremendously in response to my students. I had
one excellent student from the Congo, a Jay-Z fan, who witnessed his dad’s murder by government forces when he was a young kid and asked me to write
a letter for him when he was applying for political asylum. He was granted the request. It made me very proud of my country and made me feel very
lucky to have been born here.
Last night was a farewell party for 18 Japanese young ladies from a junior college in Yonezawa. I had taught them for a little less than two weeks,
and part of the program is to take them around to cool places and encourage them to talk and have fun. We sang Bob Marley at the party, and at least
three of the ladies were in tears, and several told me they loved me! And I love them, too.
I taught Libyans before, during and after the Arab Spring. It’s perpetual winter in Libya now. Pity, a very warm and generous people. My boss let
some students stay at our school for free once the government money (Gaddafi was sponsoring the students) dried up. I asked a former student, who is
here with her husband and children but is the only one out of her family here, to tell me what it’s like there so I can write in more detail about
it later. Suffice it to say the situation is very grim. I remember A___, her beautiful, dark, round face always smiling, who cooked me a huge and
delicious plate of couscous (it's quite the intricate dish with a lovely delicate flavor when done right). M____, who very solemnly told me that
living in Libya was like having eyes and ears but no mouth. Some of my students were happy with Gaddafi, some not. But surely none are happy in
I've taught Saudis, Kuwaitis, Bahrainis, and other gulf countries’ students. We had a Christian from Palestine, an Israeli in class with the
Saudis, Sunnis and Shias and Spaniards.
I met a Saudi (and ended up friends with him) who was wrongly accused of bombing foreign diplomats, tortured for (I think!) a year or more in prison
before being sentenced to death by beheading and then crucifiction. The perpetrator confessed and was killed in his place! He was released and given
lots and lots of money. He had deep lines around his eyes and perpetual dark circles but was a genuinely good person. He didn’t think much of his
government, though I had plenty of students who were happy with their government… women too.
During lunch the other day I spoke with a Venezuelan woman who has lived here 10 years and is applying for citizenship. With tear rimmed eyes she
spoke of her country. Her mom, kid are here but no one else. She told me horrific stories that reminded me of starving times in Russia and China.
My heart broke for her.
Anyway, it’s a big world out there and I still feel blessed to live here, but I also feel very fortunate to know so many people from so many places.
It’s given me such a wide perspective to know that people are awesome everywhere even when circumstances aren’t always.
I hope with all my heart that we can keep our country blessed, and it's worth considering that each one of us is an unofficial ambassador.
edit on 26-9-2018 by zosimov because: (no reason given)