Sunday, June 19, 2011

World Refugee Day

My former classmate and Iringa, Tanzania tent-mate Megan applies a hand painting.  

One of the hand paintings. 

Aisha jumps rope outside of the Children's School on Averill and Monroe in Rochester, N.Y.


Bhutanese dancers

The little gentleman half of Bhutanese dancers

Today, I had the pleasure of being invited by a friend to photograph World Refugee Day in Rochester held at school 15 in the city. There was face painting, dancing, good food from Nepal, Sudan, Afghanistan, and other places, as well as a lot of beautiful, awesome people. 

The best part of the day was (of course) when I sat down to eat with a couple kids and found out they're from Sudan and the DRC. Awal, Salame, and Joseph were wonderful. Another girl joined us, a student from Nazareth College, and we got talking about Mary's Place. I asked if any of them knew Kiswahili and Salame and Joseph did! Salame immediately said, "jambo!"And was soon peppering me with questions to discover what else I could say.  

She wasted no time in tapping everyone she knew on the shoulder and exclaiming, "She knows Kiswahili! Watch!" and we would start a conversation for the person. After a few people I told her my friend (Meg) in the gym lived with me there once and she knew some Kiswahili as well. Salame was after her in a flash. 

Unfortunately, I blanked on more than the basics but later and as I fell asleep I was converting as much of my thoughts to Kiswahili as possible. She reintroduced me to Cathy who, I believe, runs the refugee center at Mary's Place, and suggested Salame teach me Kiswahili as I help her with her English tenses. Sounds like a plan, Sam! The other day I ordered a Pimsleur to learn Kiswahili on CD. Days like this I practically prance out and think, "I have the best life."

Rochester may not be Tanzania, but a place is defined by it's people and God's been gracious enough to provide connections between people from Africa and I... until I can get back :) 

1 comment:

  1. Jesse, thank you SO much for telling me about this awesome opportunity! I absolutely loved everything about it and am so excited about becoming more involved in the refugee community in Rochester! It was certainly an amazing experience!