The Liberian English translation for the American English phrase, “really?”
At today’s meeting with the St. Anthony Press Club, seven of the “school journalists,” as I like to call them, listened attentively as I answered some of their intelligent questions: What is the best way to gather news? If someone does not wish to be interviewed, is it ok to ask him or her to be interviewed in the future? Is it good to interview people every day?
From bell to bell, the eighth and ninth grade journalists sat during their Friday recess time, soaking up each answer. They are on a quest for the truth.
And in underdeveloped countries like Liberia, where deceit has often been the most powerful teacher, children’s eyes peer with a thirst for the truth – that 2+2=4, that they are loved and that they can.
And the kids are often searching for truth unintentionally; they are putting chapter six of Sirach into action without even knowing.
“If you wish, you can be taught” (v. 33).
During her free time on Tuesday, Olena, second grade, asked me to help her with English homework. We spent 30 minutes coming up with five words that end in “z” and then adding –es to the end of each. Seems pretty simple – try it. I was glad to have Darius help with his addition of the word “quizzes.”
“If you are willing to listen, you will learn” (v. 34).
Wednesday night during study hall, Gbassay asked me to help her pronounce her newest English spelling words. After reciting some words to her, I was amazed to hear her articulate words like “epitomize” with no help at all.
“Then he will enlighten your mind and the wisdom you desire he will grant” (v. 37).
I never see the kids more satisfied than when they run home with “good marks.” On Tuesday, it was Marcus, a sweet, enthusiastic 12 – year – old, who came to me with his quiz grade.
“Auntie Lindsay! I did math today,” he said handing me a piece of paper covered with hand-drawn clocks. A red “9/10” sat encircled at the bottom of the page. Marcus smiled, big and beaming as usual, and ran to the dining hall after explaining to me that lunch is always at the time of “one o’clock.”
A truth: time is the most precious gift to these kids – not money, not new clothes, not even a new TV. How do I know? The boys’ TV broke a couple months ago, and they haven’t asked much about getting a new one. They’d rather hang around the staff office asking questions, talking football or drawing pictures.
New clothes are nice, candy every now and then gets them somewhat excited, but give them some of your time, and you’ve struck gold.