Whaddya think? Click. IDK. Like that? Click. 🙂 “Like”. Cool pic. Instagram. Moving or talking. Upload to Youtube. Push out through Twitter. “Re-Tweet”. Quick scatter shots out into the universe. Clever one-liners accompany – LOL – sometimes not so much – :(.
Fast and breezy. Short and pithy. Fun and tickly. That’s how “we roll”. So when my son and his room-mates return from a month living and teaching in a village in Indonesia, we spray them with rapid-fire questions, expecting instant reactions. Facts come fast. Pictures are downloaded. Media postings made. Stories start to trickle out …. Reflections come much slower.
The trickle of stories has started. Kids with iPhones and no hot water or a/c. Smiling, cheerful, attentive, respectful, inquisitive students, who’ve never left the island speaking capable English. Unexpected visit by 2-foot lizard in the bathroom – the gardener disappointed they didn’t catch it for dinner; it’s a delicacy. Offerings to the Gods made at temples and spirit houses at every dwelling three-times daily. No radio reception driving through rice paddies with great cell phone reception. Fully covered dress customs in the unrelenting stifling heat and humidity. As class is dismissed, students first take the teacher’s hand and press it to their forehead, as a sign of respect, before leaving – each one of them patiently taking their turn. Not a single encounter with ‘grumpiness’ or unfriendliness, let alone anger, the entire month – well, except the furious down-under-tourist at passport control not wanting to pay the exit tax.
The reflections are mostly questions at this stage. These will take longer to process. Why are they so overtly and consistently happy?! How do they learn to be so respectful? What magical well does their patience come from? Don’t they experience anger? How have they preserved qualities that we aspire to? How do they accommodate a physical environment that we would find intolerable? Glimpses into answers and understanding will seep into their consciousness over time.
I’m looking forward to revisiting this trip with them time and time again over the coming months, as they organize their insights and harvest thoughts and perspectives that will inform their lives.