Went on a field visit today. Went to a remote village in the area of Varzol to meet with grade nine students and parents. The road was pretty bad–got stuck 4 times and folks had to push. The final time we had to get out and walk in the snow on ice for about 600 meters to get to the entrance of the school yard and then another 200 or more feet into the school. I kept having to grab the arm of several younger men accompanying me to prevent from failing. Getting too old for this inclement weather.
It really was one of the better schools I’ve seen here. Very welcoming group. Even the old chair of the community committee (like a mayor) came to meet and talk with us. When we were done several hours later he offered his arm to me to keep me from falling. He was a frail little man and my thought the whole time–I mean how could I refuse? was…“Please God don’t let me fall and land on this poor little guy. If I hurt him—not very good for US relations with this tiny village!
Their were students waiting at the school long after it closed to get my “autograph”—geez these kids need something more entertaining to do after school! I willingly obliged. They’d told me when we talked they’d NEVER met an American before and seemed very excited to capture the moment with photos and the autographs. I’m sure they’ll entertain their families for several days about the lady from the US who came to talk to them.
When the parents first came into the meeting–the fathers looked stern and unapproachable. Two of them in particular made me feel very uneasy and I thought to myself…“I’m glad I’m with colleagues–these guys look like they don’t like ME.” I determined to talk with them individually all the same and realized quickly into my conversation with them at the close of the focus group I could not have been more wrong.
All in all it was a good visit and hopefully hands reaching across the cultural and religious divide with a warm handshake.