This is my friend Phil. He’s in Disneyland, posing with Buzz Lightyear, a character from the movie Toy Story. This is one of the photos that I have in my album of photos of friends and family that I have taken to Africa with me. The same album that the kids LOVE looking through when they come to my house to visit on the weekends. “Madam, who’s this? And who’s this? And who’s this? And this is a picture of the same person, right? And madam, that’s you? And who’s this? And who’s this? And what is that? (a boat!!!) And who’s this?” It goes on for ages! But the photo above is, without fail, the one that draws the most attention. The girls who were here last Saturday, though, had the best reaction yet.
Woy, woy, woy, madam… what is THIS?!?! Nahima physically jumped back and turned her head away in shock. Is it a human being?!?!
Ever the teacher, I asked, “What do you think?”
Woy, ma-dam, I don’t know! She took another peek and shrieked, throwing the book down on the table. Madam, I am afraid!
Laughing, I told her, “It’s just a photograph. It won’t hurt you!” I called the other girls over to take a look. Misano took a look and her eyes nearly bulged right out of her head. She just squealed as she took a step back and shook her hand in front of her face. Nahima still had her head turned and was only peeking at the picture through her fingers.
Madam! Your friend, he is not afraid?
They continued to peek at the photo and react to it for a few minutes, still incredulous that such a thing could exist. After a guessing game as to what on earth that crazy thing was - “I think it is made from plastics.” – I thought about how to explain it to them.
Well you see, my friend was in Disneyland... nope, how on earth could they know what Disneyland is???
That guy is a character from a movie... hmm... it’s highly unlikely that they’ve ever seen a movie, and even if they had, that still didn’t explain this crazy plastic humanoid hugging my friend.
There’s this man wearing a costume... what’s a costume???
So I settled on something along the lines of, "Well, there’s a man inside. He puts on these special clothes that cover his whole body, and even his head, like a hat. The special clothes even cover is face. When the special clothes are on, he walks around and greets people. He greeted my friend and my friend took a photo of them together."
Nahima covered her mouth with her hand and looked up at me with total bewilderment. Wuuuuuuuuuuh, madam. I can only guess at the questions in her head, none the least of which might be, “Why on EARTH would one do such a crazy thing???”
It’s amazing, the more time I spend with these kids, the more experiences I have like this, where I can see my own world through their eyes, and I realize so much of what I just always see as normal is either complete and total lavish luxury or even simply just an understanding or experience that is so incredibly different.
Just before she closed the album, Nahima told me, Madam, in Canada, there are many strange things!
Yes indeed there are!