No pretty pictures or travel stories today. No beautiful rugs or exotic purchases. No stories of friendly locals. Just a reminder of how incredibly lucky we are.

I’ve been feeling rather sorry for myself lately. The move here was hard on everyone. We left our comfortable life, the known, the easy, and have immersed ourselves in a completely different culture. We don’t speak the language, don’t understand the customs, can’t leave the country by car because of war on all borders. I can hardly get online without reading another horrible report about the Syrian war spilling into Jordan and Turkey. It is all taking place so very close to where we live. We don’t feel threatened or unsafe, but the regular warnings from the US Embassy are scary.

I had breakfast this morning with two students and asked them if their parents would be here next weekend for parents weekend. Both said no and for fairly similar reasons. One is Syrian and it is too dangerous for his parents to cross the border. He went home last weekend and, rather than the usual 4 hour trip, it took him 9 hours. A few hours after he crossed, there was shooting at the same border. Keep in mind that this is a 13 year old, traveling alone, across war zones.

The other child is Nigerian. He’d spoken with his mother this morning and she was at the police station because her brother had just been murdered by the Boko Haram in Borno. He then went on to tell us of the beatings he’s witnessed, the multiple times he’s been shot at while going through a checkpoint with his family, the piles of dead bodies stacked in the shape of a pyramid. The matter-of-fact way that he described everyday life was truly heartbreaking.

After that intense breakfast, those two boys and several other 9th graders came back to our apartment to hang out with Andrew. They played xbox, drank soda, told inappropriate jokes, basically acted like normal 13 year old boys. I’m not sure how I feel about the contrast. I know that I don’t understand how they can continue to laugh, love, study, be silly, be kind and be wonderful. I only hope that we can offer them a tiny bit of stability in their very unstable lives. They have worked their way into my heart, and I will never be the same. I am so very lucky.

22 thoughts on “Perspective

  1. Thank you for this post, Rachel. “Perspective” indeed. I do not know how boys like those can just be regular boys, with all that happens in their very young lives; I just (literally) thank G-d that they can. And it is good that they have someone like you to talk with about such things, even if it is a burden for you…it is an education of enormous proportions, too.


  2. Living in the Middle East does have a way of putting things in perspective. Taking it a step further, those kids, the 13-year-old boys you spoke to at King’s Academy, probably consider themselves lucky as well. After all, they attend a private boarding school while their peers in their countries live with war and chaos every day. I really enjoy your blog. It’s nice to hear your dispatches from Jordan. It reminds me of my time there.

  3. Rachel- I want to believe that it is our nature to want to “hang-out, laugh, learn, be silly, kind and wonderful.” All the ugliness that surrounds would love to smother it. But the opportunity to shine and be happy, and share that with others is what will keep the badness from taking them over. Don’t let the heaviness weigh too much on you. It can take a lot of energy to keep a candle burning- but darkness has never put out a flame! Love to you all, Rachel!

  4. What an amazing post and something to really think about. I’ve been following the story of Malala in Pakistan and have the same sense of perspective. My children have never been without food, without a safe environment, without shelter, without opportunities or without hope.

  5. So moving to read about your experiences. Eye opening in every way. Thank you for sharing them with those of us who are so far removed from the horrors of war and undeserved power as well as the beauty that manages to thrive despite inhospitable the environment.

  6. Thank you, Rachel, for sharing your experiences in Jordan. Your family will make a difference in the lives of the kids in the school as much as they will make a difference in your lives. It is all about keeping an open mind and an open heart!

  7. Hi Rachel,
    This is such a good reminder to not cause any damage or pain in our very privileged lives, to go forth with compassion even for those we find challenging. And, to give as much love and understanding as we can to those who need healing. Thank you! Amy

  8. I wish I had words of wisdom like the other posts…but all I got it…both your family and the children are lucky. sometimes we are so wrapped up in helping others that we forget we still could use some ourselves! We miss you immensly here Rachel…please pass on love and hugs from us all…Sue, Andy, Ericson Quinn and Adelaide!

  9. Rachel, It’s great you can provide the space for these guys to talk about what’s going on with them, begin able to share your story with someone you trust an important part of coping with impossible things.

  10. Rachel, Thank you so much for this important “reminder”. You are doing incredibly important work and changing the world one interaction at a time….Sending you, Lyman and the boys a Montpelier hello! Claudia (& Andy)

  11. Rashel and Lyman, I am thrilled to get your latest posting knowing that you seem sate from the tragic spillover from Syria but most to say how admiring I am of your spirit in giving up your pleasant, easy going life (my outsider’s view) in Vermont for what is clearly an adventurous chalange for the two of you at King’s Academy and a wonderful career shaping experience for Andrew and Charlie. N.B. Thirteen old boys are really into their own kind of off color jokes and sillyness. The school looks more like Stanford than Dearfield but climate has some thing to do with architectural style. Big thanks for including me in the loop. John

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