Sunday, April 6, 2008

overcome challenges

this was such an emotional, powerful, day for me.

it's hard, because i'm here. but i'm not here. my mind is 9 hours away in baltimore. and everything that is said brings me back to that.

the structured activity today was a simulation created to mimic class systems. everyone was separated into three groups (two of which got chairs, and the last was just told, "sorry, i guess you have to sit on the floor.") and everyone got five chips with varying point values. except the initial distribution was very calculated. the first group got really good chips, the third, not so much. and from there they were instructed to trade. there were lots of levels at play: political, social, economic. things went as they do in the real world. the top basked in their success. (and even worked to prevent anyone from rising to join them.) the middle stayed comfortable. the bottom completely drowned. when the opportunity for bonus points was offered to each group, i stayed with the lowest group to see how they would distribute amongst themselves. one girl was adamant. "we're trying to move people up. he has the most potential. you don't." another thought that they should "give it to the lowest so that everyone has a fair shot." no one wanted to take that risk. now these activities have some power when you are participating and caught in the middle of it all. but for me, it was much more fascinating to observe from the outside. to take note of what people were saying and see it all go down.

after that, i met emmanuel at the airport. he was so little. so soft spoken. and the weird thing was it didn't hit me until much later that he had a prosthetic leg. it hadn't even crossed my mind. we snuck him in the back door, because no one knew that he was coming. before he would suprise everyone later that night at the awards banquet, we took him to lunch. (pretty fancy.) and he shared with us what he is doing now. later this year he's planning a bike race with disabled citizens to promote a peaceful presidential election in ghana this december. and he's collecting bikes to give to students who walk hours to get to school everyday. i'm amazed at all that he is continuing to take on. or maybe i assumed he would feel like the stuff he had accomplished leading up to the movie was enough. not at all. he just keeps going. nothing is too unreasonable.

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