Thursday, February 28, 2019

What I Learned in February

I ended my January post with a hope that February would be better, and you know what, it really wasn't. We spent eleven days "sheltering in place" due to anti-government riots, and when a month is as short as February, that's a big chunk of it. Nevertheless I do have some things on my "what I learned" list.

Friends came to dinner early in the month and urged us to take the Enneagram test. I did, and was surprised by my result, but then the more I read and listened, the more I thought that it was right. Then I developed a little mini-obsession with learning about the Enneagram (I know, how original).

My husband and I took a webinar from this author, Lindsey Moses, on working with English language learners. There were four sessions and we didn't watch the fourth one yet, but we're going to finish it up on our week off for Carnival. So far it was interesting and useful, and I always like learning the latest acronyms, which in my experience are mostly what change in the education world.

The next item on my list says "financial crisis in Haiti." The Haitian currency, the gourde, has lost a lot of its value in the past year, and people are struggling for the basics of survival: food, water, medical care, sending their children to school. In addition, billions of dollars have gone missing from the PetroCaribe fund that was supposed to improve life here. These factors and others sparked riots beginning on the 7th of this month, and while the riots themselves are no longer happening, the underlying problems are in no way resolved, so we are waiting to see what will come next. It's discouraging to see Haiti sink into crisis again. We're so tired of the way people have to suffer. The vast majority of people are not involved with the destruction and violence of the riots; they just want to live their lives peacefully. We had plenty of time to contemplate this - and everything else - during our time at home.

I remember when my husband and I were dating, someone told me to imagine seeing him across the dinner table every day for the rest of my life. Good advice. But nobody ever told me to imagine being locked in with him for eleven days of political unrest. (I think I'll put that in my marriage book.) Fortunately he is great in a crisis, and while we were all a bit on edge and stir-crazy, we made it. Let's hope we don't have to shelter in place again anytime soon.

We hosted a professional development gathering for teachers in February and showed this movie, "Most Likely to Succeed." It's about how schools can adjust to the new information-based economy, specifically by focusing on a project-based curriculum. It was very interesting and led to some good conversations.

Everyone is talking about Marie Kondo right now, and her de-cluttering method. My daughter read her book several years ago, so we had already mocked the concept of only owning 30 books. But I found this article really hit the nail on the head. While having a less cluttered living space may make you feel more in control, the reality is that you're never going to have a completely in-control, tidy life. I like it when the clutter is cleared, but life is messy, and that's not going away.

I heard about this Ted Talk by Roman Mars while listening to the West Wing Weekly podcast. It's about flag design, and it is very much worth watching.

In February, I learned again about what it feels like when people talk about evacuation. We've been there before, in that space where some people feel that it's too unsafe here in Haiti and that they have to leave. Everyone's considerations for making that decision are different, but whether or not you understand why people choose to do it (and of course I do understand), you feel abandoned when you're left behind. That's one reason I felt so guilty after the earthquake for leaving Haiti. This time, like in 2004, the clear-out happened fast. Once the embassy starts pulling people out, others follow suit. It didn't help when the travel advisory was raised to level 4, putting us on the same level with countries like Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria. People are now returning, slowly, but some we may never see again. I learned that in the years since the last time we experienced this, it did not stop stinking.

I had a birthday in February, and I absolutely love my birthday, just as much as any little kid. I learned again that I also love being loved. I wish I could feel that way all the time. By the evening of my birthday I always ask myself how I could ever feel insecure, as I bask in the glow of all the Facebook messages that have been popping up all day.

Oh February, you're over already! Here's to March!

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