Hakuna matata, nenda salama
“Mazungu, mazungu sasa hoja.. SASA HOGA,” the man yelled. I could not remember hoja in Swahili, but sasa meant now. As the busload teemed toward me, I followed suit. From the back of the rickety school bus, I leaped out the emergency exit onto the savannah. Five guards, all under the age of 18, with camouflage fatigues, AK-47s and uzis, pointed at the sixty-five Africans and three Americans as we lined up and emptied our packs and suitcases on the parched grass. They looked through our belongings to be sure we had no weapons. Then, hakuna matata, nenda salama (no problem, go in peace). Boarding the bus we rode through potholed dirt tarmac roads, past burnt out tanks, (wildlife, plains, acacia trees, mountains and beautiful people) bombed buildings, and eventually reached our destination.
My position in rural Uganda at Ibuga Refugee Settlement was working with women to develop economic schemes to sell crafts. As a cynical, rebellious youth, I did not like our country, shunned government, politicians, business and anything that represented authority. I considered myself liberetarian. I was in Africa to do good in the world, and escape America. What I realized from this time is that I loved my country. Cynicism morphed to the realization that we have the best democracy in the world. One does not realize this without the perspective of a ruthless dictator, Idi Amin, being overthrown by a revolutionary guard of young soldiers. The same soldiers who searched my belongings to “keep the peace.” Their nascent democracy paled in comparison to my home in America.
Earlier this week as I listened to speeches from the senate floor, watched video clips and images of the actions by Americans — incited by our sitting leader. I could not help but wonder, “What is wrong with us? Where has civility, dignity, reality, truth, leadership, respect, gone?” I thought of other countries, ruthless actions, war, and our peaceful (mostly) nation. We are plagued by an illogical state of affairs that is our own cultural making. I never thought I would see so much bitter anger, hypocrisy, hatred, distrust and violence. Fueled by rage clicks on social media platforms. We can not become a nation, like the Uganda I visited, that changes leaders through violence. We must change this American course.
I hold dear to my heart everyone who is reading this. You are important. You make a difference. You can change the lives of children, their outlook, their understanding, their possibilities for success. You are the key to changing the world, one child, one interaction, one day at a time. We must lean into this moment, think and reflect on the importance of the education we provide for our children. The small moment. The listening to their stories, allowing them to feel heard, teaching civil discourse. Being solid rocks. Strong. Kind. We must, as we pass through this school year, continue our important work. By this, in our small communities in Vermont, we can acknowledge disenfranchisement, and listen and educate through the anger and violence. Leadership matters- every person who is reading this is a leader in some way. You lead your students, you lead your colleagues, you lead families. May we all help move our people forward in the small intentional ways we communicate our kindness and need for a civil, peaceful democracy.
Here are a few resources to talk with children about the current state of affairs.
From Teaching Tolerance: When Bad Things Are Happening, from a blog Beyond the Spotlight by Dr. Alyssa Hadley Dunn: Resources for Teachers on the Days After the Attack on the US Capitol,the official statement from Governor Scott. PBS.
NEW WEDNESDAY 7:00pm ASTRONOMY CLUB: The Kingdom East Afterschool Program (KEAP) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M) Adventure Team is excited to offer you a new virtual family program in the new year at a time of day when all the members of your family can take part!
Starting Wednesday, Jan. 6 at 7:00pm, we will offer an ONLINE Astronomy Club! This opportunity is open to all Kingdom East School District students, employees and their families. Sign up (it’s free!) to learn all about the night sky in your backyard in a class led by Bobby Farlice-Rubio, Science Educator at the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium. This series will take place on every Wednesday in January from 7:00-8:00pm: January 6, 13, 20 & 27.
Writing Valentines: The Council on Aging is working with area schools to have students submit valentine’s for our take out/home-delivered meal recipients. We need 1,000 valentines.The valentines can be hand-made with simple paper and crayons. Nothing fancy. Valentine’s for EldersThey can be picked up or they can be dropped off at the St. J Council on Aging office by February 3rd. Feel free to send the attached to friends to help spread the word. Info:contact Mel Reiss at 802-745-8136.
Faculty and Staff: Open Positions in Kingdom East School District
Engagement – board and community
UPCOMING SCHEDULED MEETINGS:
KE BOARD MEETING 6:00pm 2nd Tuesday Jan 12, 2021
Policy Committee 5:00 pm 2nd Tuesday Feb. 9, 2021
Facilities Committee 5:00 pm 3rd Tuesday Jan 19, 2021
Finance Committee 8:00 am Jan 11, 2021
Academic Excellence Committee 6:00 pm 3rd Wednesday Jan 20, 2021
Comm./Strategic Planning 6:00 pm 3rd Thursday Jan 21, 2021
Negotiations/Personnel 4:00 pm 2nd Wednesday TBD