We Aren't All That Different
Skin color, age, gender, nationality, culture, hair, abilities, likes, opinions (catching my drift?). These, and many more, are all the things that we look at to pinpoint differences. We look at different aspects of every person to determine what group or box everyone can fit into. We categorize, even without realizing it. It's part of how we find our "nitch" where we fit into this world. Overall, we allow our differences to cloud our views of just how similar we are.
I went to Haiti with a mentality that working with children in other parts of the world would be different than working with children in the United States. Boy, was I in for a surprise.
We arrived at the small church early Monday morning, excited and ready to teach. The kids were equally as excited and ready, forming a line outside the door. In the village there are roughly 1,600 children of varying ages. We created two sessions every day, one aimed at a younger group and another aimed at a teenage group. Of those 1,600 kids, we invited roughly 150. I struggle with this, because I want to be able to reach every child, but we also had to be realistic about how many children our group of 9 could handle.
On that first morning, as the kids lined up at the door, another boy came running up with a dead bird attached to a stick to taunt the little kids. That was the moment I realized, it doesn't what part of the world you're in, what your social economic status is, or what color your skin is, kids are kids. It was a beautiful realization that only continued to clarify for me as the week went on.
The time used before our sessions, and then again after the sessions, when we could just connect with the children, were my favorite. Despite the language barrier, people are able to connect with one another beyond words. And everyone, Haitian and American a like, had a smile on their face in those moments, as our differences faded away and we were just humans interacting.
I think our differences speak loud enough that we can't see how connected we truly are. And the innocent actions of children can prove that. Just as young kids get antsy listening and need movement in the classroom here in the states, kids in other parts of the world need just as much movement. Just as little kids like taking goofy pictures that they look at and laugh at here, kids all over the world are fascinated with just how silly they can make their face too. And just as teenagers in the states walk into a new situation with a "too cool" demeanor, afraid to look silly in front of their peers, teens from around the globe feel those same pressures.
Through hand clapping games, sharing of languages, jokes, dancing/music, sports, and just offering a hand shake or hug, I made connections with children well beyond conversations. I realized just how similar we all are. And I reinforced my belief that education starts with getting on kids levels and opening yourself up to build relationships first. Because in the end, what we teach may be forgotten, but the connection among people will always remain.