You are 14.
You came here to the U.S. from the Ivory Coast because there was a civil war.
You told me about weapons hidden in Banco National Park by your house. Seeing people shot. Seeing people die.
You told me about not being in school for a year because of the war.
You told me about a cloud descending on your village. And a weeping statue which could end the war.
You told me about why there was a war - there is a President, and someone else who thinks he should be ruling, so they were killing people who were against them.
You showed me magical protection amulets that local fighters wore.
You showed me your favorite foods. Foufou. Alloco. Kedjenou. Cacao. We talked about cooking.
You told me your father and mother spoke two different traditional languages, as well as French and English.
Now you are in the U.S.
At an alternative school.
You are struggling to understand how to interact with your peers. They make fun of your accent. You try to fit in, often in ways that disrupt.
Today you finished a project. I told you that a lady from Egypt had created the project. Other students in your class balked at the programming language involved, but you jumped right in.
You were fascinated that I could be in a class with a lady from Egypt. I explained (as best I could) online connections and classes. After looking at her project, you said, "Me and dis lady, we have a lot in common!"
"Dis lady" was Professor Maha Bali, who then wrote you an email, in spite of her own busy life with work and family. I can't wait to share it with you Friday!
You've never talked to anyone at my school for more than 5 minutes. Today you talked nonstop for 40.
Thank you, Maha. You helped someone half a world away.
If this is Connected Learning, let's keep it up.
I learned I have so much to learn.
That is all.
|child in front of French troops, Ivory Coast|