*SIDENOTE*anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE background information/pointless information/telling stories/you get the point at this moment because this last / is meaningless. If you would like to read the heart and soul of this post, where I am sharing one man’s awesome story, skip down and read after the dotted lines.
Working at an international school, it has its perks. Not only do we get to celebrate Korean holidays (a weeklong Chuseok vacation? awesome), we also get to celebrate all the American ones. Yippee! I am pretty sure I was able to eat at least four Thanksgiving feasts last week, one of which was served at a restaurant on the military base (almost left my purse on base, with my i.d., and held the entire staff of my school up to go back and get it, that would have been bad, I had a headache okay?), another at a brazilian all you can eat (meat) restaurant (not your typical thanksgiving feast, but a feast nonetheless), another through an amazing banquet at my church, and the last at ICEC.
ICEC= International Children’s Educator Conference
the main point of this blog entry
You may be curious as to what possessed me to sign up (that’s right, I volunteered) to go to a conference during my Thanksgiving Break when I could have been sleeping in (and NOT waking up to get to school at 6:30 a.m. for the bus to the opposite side of the city) and catching up with all the friends I never get to see because work runs my life.
I was wondering the same thing up until the conference.
It was the beginning of the year. I was excited. And Fresh. It is my first year teaching. I couldn’t wait to log in some PD (that professional development for all you non-teachers out there) hours. You name it, I was excited. Then. At the beginning of the year. I didn’t really think that I was giving up a nice long holiday weekend.
And if I were to do it all over again I wouldn’t change a thing (maybe have the conference start and hour or two later… besides the point). The Conference Was Amazing.
I have many things to share. Pages and pages of notes = amazing stories and insight into education, life, working with 3rd culture kids. But first I will start with Wess Stafford (Dr. Wesley Stafford, I should say) and his story. Or a brief summary ^^
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(you know what this dotted line means)
Wess was a 3rd culture child who grew up on the Ivory Coast of Africa. His parents: missionaries. He grew up in a village where everyone helped raise the children, they were very poor. “Sometimes the only thing you have to give is love.” He was taught that important value among many, many other things. “Joy is a choice. You choose to be joyful.”
Due to the poverty 1 out 4 of his childhood friends died. “Daddy, when am I going to die?” A natural question to him, so he asked it. His dad pointed to the scratches on his arms. “You got those scratches in America before we came here, that means you are not going to die.”
By the time he was 15, half of his friends had died. Half. Friends would die because they gave their malaria pill to another friend, or they offered their serving of food to someone else.
At 15-years-old, and as skinny as a rail, Wess Stafford came back to the States for the first time since he was a baby. New York City. He walked into his first grocery store and saw aisle upon aisle of food and was so confused. So… there was enough food? He walked next door into his first pharmacy and asked what was on the shelves. “Medicine.” He looked at the amazing abundance of pills that would have saved all of his friends lives, and he looked at all of the people walking around the streets, casually, like nothing was wrong.
No one cared.
He walked out into the street. Sat on the sidewalk. And wept.
He cried. And he cried. And he cried. New Yorkers just walked past. If anything, they were annoyed that he was in the way. They didn’t know what this poor boy was experiencing. The culture shock. He entered high school with a rage against Americans.
He later learned that it wasn’t that no one cared. It was that they just didn’t KNOW. And once people know, they care. They care a lot.
Dr. Wess Stafford is the President of Compassion International
Too Small To Ignore, the book Dr. Stafford wrote about his life story and how he came to create Compassion International. I need to read this!