Friday, April 26, 2013

Miss Bowers: Continued

Hooray! I have a teaching job for next (school) year. The agonies of unemployment/uncertainty are over!

The interview on Tuesday went really well (if I do say so myself) and they called me back that same day to offer me the job. I asked for a couple of days to think about it, and gave them my decision today. I'm really excited to be back in the saddle--classroom--again with a brand new set of courses and students. 

That's all. Just wanted to share my "life update." It hasn't really hit me that I said yes...I'm waiting for my brain to catch-up with itself! It's been a week of pros and cons lists, lying awake in the middle of the night wondering and praying about what I should do, and agonizing over whether or not I wasn't being faithful enough because I didn't want to wait until summer to find out if I could maybe, possibly, get a job with a public school district. But, I think that God has made the way clear, in bringing this opening to my attention, in the interview process, and in the decision making process.

So--hooray! I get to be Miss Bowers again!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Musings on a Tuesday (4.23.2013)

On my mind this week:

1) I really, really want to pronounce Quinoa "Kwin-oh-ah." I know that is wrong. But that is how I say it in my head, and hope that it doesn't come out that way if I ever have to say it in front of some ironic hipster-types. Or, just people who actual eat Quinoa. (Keen-wah. Keen-wah. Keen-wah.) I've never tried it, actually. I almost bought some the other day, but it was $8 for a small bag, and I thought: "I am not ready to commit financially to the ironic-hipster-health-food lifestyle." Brown rice is a big enough step for me. (Bleh--give me good ol' African broken rice any day!)

2) I wrote a serious blog post the other day that has had more hits than almost all the posts I've written so far on this blog. That's kind of scary. I don't think I'll write any more serious blog posts again. Just kidding. Maybe. It's much easier to be a lighthearted blogger than a serious one.

3) I have a job interview in an hour and half. I hate waiting. I wish it could have been at 7:00 in the morning, not 1:00 in the afternoon. I just want to get the agony of waiting over with. Last night, I admit that I sort of "crammed" by rereading a bunch of my old college education papers (and thinking about how my philosophy of teaching has shifted and changed over the years--Oh, Dr. Mark, you would have been so proud of how reflective I was, even if I was cramming), browsing through classroom management websites and lists, and reading discussions on The English Companion Ning (which is an awesome resource, English teachers.) Has anyone else ever "crammed" for a job interview?

I have another job interview on Friday. It's a big week for job interviews for me. If you are the praying type, I'd appreciate a shout out to the big guy for me!

(Wow, is that the most round about way to offer a prayer request, or what?)

4) I started my job last week. I'm enjoying it so far. In just one week, I've seen a lot of different classrooms, teachers, management styles, schools, and students. In just week, I've realized (again) how blessed I've been  to be able to teach my "golden" children at Dakar Academy (I always say that my students at DA were/are "Golden." Not sure why. It's what comes out of my mouth. Kind of like Keen-oh-ah). I've also realized that I  have a lot to learn about classroom management. I don't know if I could do the work that these inner city school teachers do. They are amazing, and deserve a standing ovation--even the not-so-in-control ones. They are working with really challenging populations. This isn't new information, I know, but it has been such a reminder to me of how much I took for granted while teaching at DA.

So, to all my Golden children: thank you for not really making me want to pull out my hair too much. If that's not a back-handed compliment, I don't know what is. Oh, yes, you drove me crazy. (And you know who you are...and you don't know how hard it is for me not to name some names at this point.) Sometimes I wanted to throw things at you. Who am I kidding? Sometimes I did throw things at you. But, mostly, you made me laugh, you made me glad to be a teacher, you gave me joy in my calling.

Whoa, it just got all sentimental up in here. *Wipes tear away.*

Until another Tuesday's musings.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

An Open Letter to America about the Media Coverage of the Boston Marathon Bombings

Dear America,
This has been a rather intense week, hasn't it? Two bombs went off in Boston killing three, and injuring dozens, a plant exploded in Texas killing many and injuring more, not to mention the gun-ban bill in the Senate that did not pass. The news this week overtook everything else, and America, we hung on to every word.

I can't imagine how frightening it must have been to be in Boston that day, to hear the bombs go off, or even, just to know that they went off in your city. I was blessed by how everyone rallied together, and I think it was a testament to that essence that we call The American Spirit, the way that the nation clamored to offer their condolences and aide, the way Bostonians reached out to the injured, to those with canceled flights, to everyone there. I was so moved to hear the story of the runners who just kept on running straight to the hospital to donate blood, and to hear the countless stories of people being good to one another. In a nation divided by things like gay marriage and gun laws, it was refreshing to see people showing love to strangers, and for those issues to mostly be put on the back burner this week. For the first time in a long time, news about kindness superseded news about nastiness to one another, despite the horrible catalyst for the kindness.

America, I never want to be one of those missionary kids who believes that what happens in America, to American people, isn't important. I admit that living in this country can be a struggle for someone who has lived so long overseas, and I admit that missionary kids can, and do, adopt a "holier than thou" attitude when it comes to the plight of the ordinary American. Sometimes I struggle with being an American, but this week, I was really proud to be an American, proud to see my countrymen and women rise up, to care about something together, to reach out to one another.

And yet, I was troubled this week over more than the fact that two men decided to explode bombs at a celebrated event. After the initial shock, as I watched the media coverage, as I listened to the endless analysis and interviews on the radio, I couldn't help but think, quietly, to myself: But?


But what if this was Tel Aviv?

But what if this was Timbuktu?

But what if this was Jos?

But what if this was Kigali?

But what if this was Mogadishu?

But what if this was Baghdad?

But what if this was Kabul?

But what if this was Islamabad?

But what if this was Dakar?

But what if this was Damascus?


I believe it is certainly a nation's right to broadcast and cover a huge news event. I believe it was this nation's right to cover the Boston Marathon bombings, the subsequent investigation, and manhunt. I do. Also, I do not want to in any way negate the grief and suffering that these people caused through their senseless and heinous acts of violence. It was terrible.

But so much so?

Dearest America, terrible things happen in our world every day. Terrible things that are far worse than what happened last Monday in Boston. And, what makes my heart ache is that those terrible things rarely get a tenth of percent of the coverage that this past weeks events received. Rarely even one percent of the coverage.

What if each time there was a massacre in Syria, America covered it like they covered the Marathon Bombings of this week?

What if each time a church full of people in Northern Nigeria were brutally murdered in their worship service, America covered it like they covered the Marathon Bombings of this week?

What if each time a Somalian overlord took over Mogadishu and declared autonomy--again--America covered it like they covered the Marathon Bombings of this week?

What if each time a bus exploded in Tel Aviv, America covered it like they covered the Marathon Bombings of this week?

What if the next, inevitable, time that someone tries to commit genocide against a people, America covered it like they covered the Marathon Bombings of this week?

How can we balance wanting to know about what is happening in our own nation, without being ignorant of what is happening in the wide world around us? In today's world of information access, we know when these things happen. But, to paraphrase Hotel Rwanda, we say "That's too bad," and turn back to our dinners, or change the channel to a re-run of Seinfeld or The Big Bang Theory.

How can we balance care for our country and care for our world? Is there a middle ground that we can reach? I know that someone will read these words, and think (and possibly inform me) that I am an idiot, that I do not care about the plight of the people of Boston, that I am a bad American, that I'm just a stupid, narrow-minded missionary kid who possesses no patriotism. I don't know how else to emphasize that I do care, and that they deserve to be recognized and celebrated and protected, other than assuring you that I do, I really, really do.

But the orphaned children in Syria need to be recognized, too.

But the refugees of Somalia living in refugee camps in Kenya and Tanzania as the result of war need to be recognized too.

But the child soldiers of Sierra Leon, Liberia, Uganda, Darfur, and many other nations need to be recognized, too.

But the Christians of Northern Nigeria who literally risk death by going to Church, need to be recognized, too.

My prayer, America, is that the events of this week will give us a little taste of what much of the rest of the world experiences every day, and compel us to widen our worldview. We live in a nation where most of us do not fear to step our of our doors. We live in a nation where riding the bus or train does not invite fears of suicide bombers. We live in a nation where our children will never be brainwashed and forced to bear arms to fight a senseless war.

We are shaken up by these events, that something so devastating, so shattering, could happen on a beautiful day in Boston. We are shaken up that people's lives have been utterly changed by these events, that people lost their lives, or limbs, because of two young men's worldview.

But let us grow from this experience, let us look to the world outside of us. The next time a suicide bomb goes off in Kabul, remember how you felt, remember how unstable you felt, remember how it hurt you, and put yourself, for a moment, in the shoes of those men, women, and children who will get the news that their mother, father, or child will not be returning home that day, ever again. Take a moment to pray, to write to your senator, congressman, or president, take a moment to see what you can do. The fact of the matter is, what happens in Boston happens every single day somewhere in this wide world that we live in. We cannot possibly know everything that happens, cannot possible even handle knowing of every "Boston" that takes place each day. But, we can do something about the ones that we do hear about. We can pay attention to the things that take place outside of the borders of these fifty states.

Again, to close, I want to reiterate my deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones on Monday. I want to offer encouragement to those who are recovering both physically and emotionally from the trauma of Monday. I also want to offer prayers for that young man who lies waiting to be interrogated in that Boston hospital. His life will never be the same again, nor the life of his family members. Remember: they too are grieving the loss of their sons today. And to those who declared that he deserves to be tortured senselessly: shame on you. He does deserve punishment, but he does not deserve torture no matter what he did. Senseless violence will not negate senseless violence. There will never be an end to the conflict between The West and Islam if we respond with an eye for an eye.

Most of all, I want to call for empathy. Remember what you felt this week, and when you hear of a similar, or worse, event happening, don't put it into the part of your brain filed under "Other People's Problems/Countries and Cities I cannot pronounce." Remember your pain, your confusion, and try to listen to their stories.  If America reached out compassionately to the victims of tragedies like the Boston bombings around the world, the world would have a far different view of Americans. The world would know America is a nation of kindness, of compassion, of hope. This week, we showed that we are, we showed what we can be to one another, what we could be to one another, beliefs about marriage and guns set aside. And maybe, slowly, if we lived our lives like this, as a nation committed to demonstrating kindness, the kind of things that happen every day that devastate, that maim, that horrify, would slowly, slowly happen less, and less and less.

A concerned, broken, but hopeful, American