I keep thinking that I will only write in here once a week, but it's becoming a good way to process.
Today as I walked from the bus stop to my house, the smog/dust was so thick that I couldn't forget that I was in a city of 2 million people in Bolivia. When I'm at SCCLC, everyone speaks English, the classrooms look like classrooms, and it's easy to begin thinking that I'm at home. But then I leave, and taxis beep at me, and the streets aren't all paved, I stick out like a sore thumb, and I remember that I am the foreigner. Usually I think about being different in light of being the one who is pegged as having money-- the target. But today I thought about what my skin and my background make me socially.
I was walking on one of the few lengthy sidewalks in Bolivia (it's amazing and several miles long), and, since I walk fast like an American, it became necessary for me to pass a Bolivian woman walking (slowly) ahead of me. She was wearing a cleaning uniform common to workers here. As I got closer, I was shocked as she stepped off the sidewalk and waited for me to pass. I turned to her and said Buenas tardes and gave her a timid smile, and I was shocked to see the fear on her indigenous-looking face. Why would she ever be afraid of me?
I started thinking about it. No one has ever cleared a sidewalk for me. But her people have lived through years of oppression by people with skin lighter than theirs. Why wouldn't she be afraid? The fear I could understand. But deferring to me as I passed? I feel guilty for I-don't-know-what just thinking about it. What is my responsibilities in these situations?
My classroom. Today one of my Bolivian students told me he used to live in a mansion. The first day of classes I talked about my student's parents making their lunches, and they informed me that their maids packed their lunches. How can I make them understand equality? My heart yearns for justice here. In the States. In my church. Lord, teach me how to live.
"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."