This morning, Grace was looking at her VBS picture. They had attended in June at our church in California.
There's a couple hundred people in the picture. "It's easy to find us," she exclaimed. "See, Mom? We're the only brown kids in there."
She's not bothered by it now. But she was when we were in America.
Our church family, and everyone else for that matter, wholeheartedly embraced my children. But they felt different and they knew they stood out. Yes, it was hard for them, especially Grace. Sometimes, she cried about it. It was a difficult road to walk with her.
My children are thrust into the middle of several different worlds. The Caucasian American world, the Tanzanian world, the international ex-patriate world. And I worry. As they grow older, will they be able to identify with us? with Tanzanians? Where will they fit? Will they be able to bridge all these worlds?
And that is one of the many reasons I am thankful for HOPAC. Half of the students are Tanzanian, and the other half are everything else. Many, many of the children have no idea what they are.
There's the group of kids who are half Dutch, and half Greek, but were born in Tanzania. There's all those who are half Tanzanian and half something else--German, Danish, Japanese--who speak multiple languages and may have a passport to a country they have never lived in.
I asked a little African-American second grader what state she is from. She looked at me blankly. "I don't know," she shrugged. "I was born in China."
I love it. My children, being born and raised in Tanzania by American parents, can be confused here, and fit right in. It's beautiful.
Friday, we celebrated International Day at HOPAC. Always the highlight of everyone's year. We sang and we ate and we waved flags, and some children represented two countries and some children represented more. It was a day to celebrate the beauty of our cultures and our confused children.
Grace and Zawadi
(Photo credit for the pictures below goes to Abigail Snyder. Gil was teaching so I had to borrow pictures from another great photographer!)
Photo credit: Christine Liebrecht
These videos are for HOPAC alumni and former staff....or anyone who wants a real taste of what we get to experience!