Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pouring over photos from home

This evening as Isaac worked on ESL with Dal Mang, I tried to corral Judah and play with the twin Burmese girls Elizabeth and Mary.

The mother, Niang, doesn't speak English and so is often in their bedroom while the rest of us are interacting in the living room. Judah loves to run in and wander around, but I try to avoid it because I don't feel free to walk into their bedroom in order to get him out of trouble and she doesn't feel free to set boundaries for the little blond kid. But yet again Judah escaped while I was busy elsewhere and disappeared around the door.

We were packing up to leave so I went after him, rounding the corner into their closet where Niang sat in her sarong, surrounded by her two girls and photos strewn everywhere. She had a box in front of her and was clearly taking the photos out and looking at them. Her two girls were also entranced.

I picked up Judah and we packed up and said goodbye, but as we walked out I wanted to cry for her. How many years did I do that? I would open my box of photos, my scrapbook, my folder on my computer, and look over photo after photo, longing for the people and places and time where I was at home. Niang is homesick today. She's pregnant and has two year old twins, and she lives in a one bedroom apartment in a concrete jungle in the winter. They live on her husband's job as a dishwasher. It's not exactly bright and shiny right now, though they are such sweet and happy people.

And she, like me, doesn't even really have a home. She's lived in multiple places, the people she grew up with are now scattered around the world as refugees, and they aren't able to go "home" to their own culture. Here in Dallas among other refugees is pretty good, but here she doesn't know the culture or the language yet.

I think next week along with the roach spray we promised,  I will bring some of my photos, and maybe that will inspire them to bring out theirs, and we can swap stories of goodbyes and home and living in Southeast Asia. 

Leviticus 19: 33-34.
“When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien
who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as
yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God”.

1 comment:

Jaimie said...

That is such a good idea, to bring out the photos. Kacie, thanks so much for always blogging about this. It helps me be more sensitive to ESL people I meet -- or it helps me try, anyway.