"We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should.
Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease."
-G.W. Bush, 2001
This quote came during my service as Peace Corps volunteer in Benin. Perhaps then it is no surprise that today I received a package from one of my best friends from Peace Corps that contained a children's book titled, "Africa is not a Country."
I hope that it is read by children everywhere. I am trying to think of ways that I could use it here in Mauritania. I have been thinking a lot lately about children's books and how they could be used in ESL classrooms with adults/teenagers. I have had great success with Marshall's "Miss Nelson is Missing" and Yashima's "Crow Boy." I love my new book and it's colorful illustrations.
The book is even more special because it contains stories about nearly every country I have been fortunate enough to visit in Africa, including Kenya, Senegal, Ethiopia, and Benin. It even features a lovely story about a girl living in Mauritania. I know that I will think of a creative way to share this wonderful book with my friends and colleagues here.
Reading this book made me happy. It reminded me of all of the lessons I have learned since the first day I moved to Kenya thirteen years ago. I am grateful to all of my friends across the continent, who have taught me how to live communally and to appreciate each day as it comes. I owe a great debt to the countless teachers who taught me to say hello and thank you, which I still remember in Luo, Kiswahili, Mina, Fon, Goun, Yoruba, Tigrigna, Kunama, Pulaar, Wolof, Arabic, and French- although sometimes they all get jumbled together!
I am counting my good luck in life to have crossed paths with so many incredible people. Thank you for your thoughtful gift Claire, mon amie sincere!!!