For the first 6 weeks of the new school year at JSMK I taught math. I found myself getting frustrated when I had to go over and over very simple concepts. I kept thinking, ‘why don’t they know this?’, as if they’d wilfully not learned 5th grade arithmetic simply to annoy me. It reality, they just weren’t blessed with an entire life of focused education.
I’m kicking myself for being such an ungracious jerk. While I spent my childhood learning that .25 times 3 is .75, they were cultivating other skills; things like cooking banana flowers and making grass roofs. When I enter their jungle world, they teach me patiently, laughing at my awkward attempts to emulate them, but good natured and without even a hint of annoyance.
I have so much to learn from the Karen. Not just how to make a bamboo basket (although that is a goal), but how to share my world with the same graciousness and patience that they share theirs.