Friday, November 21, 2008

To make a noise like that

This morning, we had another staff meeting. It was supposed to start at noon, but keep in mind that we’re on Africa time here. I was the first teacher to show up (at 12:01), and the second person didn’t arrive until about 12:50. The meeting actually started at 1:00.

I sat on the cream-colored sofa in between Auntie Rita and Sister Dorothy. As I looked around at all the other people in the room, I remembered the last staff meeting I went to two days after I arrived in October, when I was introduced for the first time. I was the awkward new girl in a room full of strangers. Now, I know everyone by name and many of the teachers have become my friends. I felt much more comfortable this afternoon than I did the very first staff meeting I went to.

As I sat on the sofa waiting for the meeting to start, something amazing happened. It started with the curtains. The curtain behind me brushed against my hair, then was lifted high above my head. The wind blew through the open windows so strongly that I had a hovering veil of white behind me. Then I heard a loud, loud noise from outside... it was raining! But it wasn’t just any rain... it was an African storm. The rain here is so strong and so loud. We closed the windows, but it didn’t do anything to muffle the sound; the rain pounded hard against the glass, and I thought about the “rain stick” my grandma had when I was little. Thunder came next. When I was little, my grandma told me that thunder was just God moving his furniture around. That’s what this thunder sounded like... giant bookshelves falling over right above us. Then we had “lights off” - a black out, which happens daily here so it wasn’t a big deal. With the lights out and the clouds covering the sun, it grew dark in the room, until little flashes of white appeared on the ceiling that looked like a camera flash, but no one was taking pictures. A few seconds later, another one of God’s bookshelves fell over, and I realized that the camera flashes were actually lightning!

I sat inside the headmistress’s office, surrounded by teachers discussing salary raises and the upcoming PTA meeting, but all my attention was directed outside. I listened to the wondrous sounds of the rain and the thunder and felt the breeze coming through the one open window. I was completely in awe of the power of the storm. Like all the storms I’ve seen here, this one was very intense, hurling rain at the windows for about fifteen or twenty minutes, and then it stopped as suddenly as it started. The sun came out, and all was quiet except for the sounds of children playing and the teachers’ voices. The storm was the best part of the meeting, and when it ended, I found that the rest of the meeting bored me somewhat. I thought about the daily staff meetings I had for my job at a language camp this summer, and it made me miss each and every EF pal so much, but... we never had rain like this in Long Beach!

“Boom! Boom! Boom!
Mr. Brown is a wonder!
Boom! Boom! Boom!
Mr. Brown makes thunder!
He makes lightning!
Splatt! Splatt! Splatt!
And it’s very, very hard
to make a noise like that!”
- Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?
by Dr. Seuss

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