Saturday, December 15, 2012

Happy Holidays; Thankful: Thorns have Roses.

 Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happiest of New Years to all of you!! (you may think I'm confused with my timing...Thanksgiving has passed, Christmas isn't for a couple of weeks and New Years beyond that...) But... Aren't all of these holidays full of attitudes that we should be mindful of more than once a year? After finishing my first year teaching and a year living in Kiabakari, I've taken some time to reflect a bit on the past year and the year to come.

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” ― Alphonse Karr

I've taken some time to think about the past year, the joy, the challenges, the exciting and dull days... and this year for me, Thanksgiving has taken on a whole new meaning. A much deeper sense of how much I truly have in my life to be grateful for.  This, newfound sense of all the blessings in my life would not be possible without ALL of the experiences I have had here in Tanzania. The way I view myself and the reality of the world and situations I live in, and therefore the gratefulness I have for my life and all of these experiences would not be the same without the past year in Tanzania. 

So what is it that I'm more mindful to be grateful of this year? 

I'm more mindful of the harsh realities for so many around the world, and so grateful for how blessed I have been in my life. 

I'm grateful for the opportunities I have had in my life, even the most thorny, challenging and painful ones, because those tend to have the ability to teach us something meaningful and have the capacity to bloom into a beautiful rose. 

As I've become more aware about vast inequity in places in the world, I'm grateful for being raised in a household where I was taught no one human being is better than another. Not even based on various attributes, such as economic status, gender, race, education, age, etc. 

One thing that has been brought to my  full awareness while I have been living here, is the large gap here between women and men. I've written before about the inequality between men and women in the area I am living in, and this has made me very grateful for the opportunities I have in my life.  This is not to say where I am living is an awful place where every single woman is oppressed and doesn't enjoy life. However, that being said many women face challenges unimaginable to many of us as well.  I do not want to portray the village I'm living in, in a negative light, however it has challenges , just as everywhere in the world. For instance, I would argue women still lack equitable opportunities and rights to men the United States.  However, we have come a long way and through many experiences, I am more grateful for what my grandmother and mother had to endure not so long ago to gain certain privileges for women that many in the world still struggle for today.

 Something else that strikes me is how little people need to survive and yet can be quite happy... (key word, need). I face it quite often here traveling in various villages seeing adorable, content children playing with broken toys (if they're lucky), pebbles or seeds or dirt more often. It never ceases to amaze me and so often shame me. It is all to easy to get caught up in our excess, especially this time of year, the season of "giving".

The last thing I'm overwhelmingly grateful for is my community of support. I have two of the most amazing and supportive parents in the world, wonderful supporting friends and family both near far away! Also I'm so blessed by an amazing group of people here in Tanzania that being here is so much easier than most you back home imagine. For all of that I'm immeasurably grateful.

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” ― G.K. Chesterton

Many people (myself included), don't realize the privileges and freedoms we have, we can so easily take them for granted. Living here facing some difficult challenges and seeing some of those around me facing even more unimaginable challenges  has made me so thankful for the privileges I have and the wonderful people I'm blessed to have.

Happiest of Holidays to you all from Tanzania.
Mungu akubariki ~God bless,

Annie Bunio

Three of my  holiday movie quotes:

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." - Dr. Suess

"No man is a failure who has friends." Clarence ( It's a Wonderful Life)

" Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about. Lights, please. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.' That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." Linus Van PeltFrom my Android phone on T-Mobile. The first nationwide 4G network.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Updates! Graduation and travels

Hello everyone from Arusha! I know what you might be thinking... arusha what? Or why have you not been blogging??? (thanks Tom Morris for getting on my case, I cannot believe it's been almost two months..I will do better!!)... Anyways, let me attempt to fill you all in on some of the crazy, amazing, wonderful and challenging things that have been going on since I last wrote. Last I wrote we had three weeks left of teaching exams and then graduation. It went by so fast! It's been planting season so we also had some days in the fields planting and digging up weeds, by hand, or hoe rather.. It's also been raining which just meant a few days of heavy mud hoe work... Not easy, but good work and nice time working with the students. I'll attach some pictures of a myself and a couple.students that did work with me on a Saturday morning. you'll enjoy our mud shoes...the mud cakes your I've learned to ditch them right as I enter the field, then the mud will cake to your feet and form new protective mud shoes :-) I also have purchased some wonderful tire shoes Enough about shoes!!! The last few weeks of teaching went by really fast. The very last week we had some wonderful Norwegian Bible school students who came to Kiabakari and helped in the classroom for a week! The students did a project with these Norwegian visitors and it was a wonderful way to wrap up the school year. It was nice to see many students asking the visitors questions and really trying to use some of what they had learned. Halloween visited Kiabakari this year, I decided, being born in the Halloween Capitol of the World and all, (yes... Anoka MN) that I needed to share this with my friends in I explained trick-or-treating in my class, then I invited everyone students and coworkers alike to come trick or treat at my house in the evening...of course.costumes mandatory. It was wonderful, everyone came I made.cookies and it was a lot of fun (lots of Obama costumes...:) best Halloween ever! I also taught the Norwegian children how to carve pumpkins....they were thrilled they loved it and look forward to it next year as well :-) I think the last big update is graduation and travel plans! Graduation was nuts and wonderful! A lot of preparation and work, but it was wonderful to see the students graduate. Each student was given one invitation to invite one guest, I was honored when one often of my students invited me! ;Graduation was also really surreal... These are the students I moved to Kiabakari with, and now moving on, it will be different in January... I don't think it will fully sink in until then, but until then I can officially say I've finished a whole school year teaching, and crazy enough have been in Tanzania over a year! Nuts! Travel.. I spent two days on the road by car the first day, ten hours to Nairobi, Kenya. Then on Thanksgiving I got up early and got on a bus to Arusha, Tanzania (ok i may have woken 5:30 instead of 6 to indulge in a HOT.shower :-) I arrived in Arusha late afternoon, on Thanksgiving :-)It's been wonderful to see "family" and friends here! ;I am so thankful to be here and was able to celebrate Thanksgiving with a potluck of 62 people and even got invited to a second Thanksgiving dinner over the weekend. Amazing! I'm having a wonderful time with my adoptive parents here in Arusha Linda and Mark, who I am so blessed to have in my life, they are such wonderful examples for me to be around, and they treat me like a daughter :-) so lucky! Another thing I'm thankful for is the opportunity to go back to Rwanda! Two of my friends here and myself, will travel by bus from Arusha to Nairobi, to Kampala to Rwanda! Stay for a few days and then head back through Tanzania, where I will head back to Kiabakari! So that is what I've been up to for those of you who've been anxious to know!! >Thanks for reading!< Annie

Other fun things...
1. I dug up a sweet potato the size of my head, called it my child, when I asked my students if it looked like me they said without hesitation, yeah, it's white...
2 Obama is living in my backyard.. Lady the dog had puppies, due to premature birth all died but one spurred by (awesome) election results, I named him Obama.
3. Somehow hearing Christmas music at 80°makes it feel like I'm listening to Christmas music in July.. But it's advent... Hmmf it'll mama's sending me It's A Wonderful Life!