Monday, October 18, 2010

Weekend Report: The Mall with My Refugees

Believe it or not, eating, running, and reading is not ALL I do! Since all of those activities are a wee bit on the selfish side, I do some volunteering to balance it out. 


I work with a family of refugees from the Congo – they moved to MD this spring after spending 5 years in a refugee camp in Tanzania. When they arrived they didn’t speak any English (their first language is Swahili, and one of the uncles speaks a little bit of French). Co-volunteer Dorothee and I make our way to their home in Riverdale at least once a week to teach them English and help them with all things America (which is tricky!).

This weekend we wanted to give them a break from the tediousness of homework and tutoring and government paperwork and instead do something fun. So we did what all DC-newbies do – DC Monuments and Memorials! They loved it! We embraced the gorgeous fall weather and walked around the WWII Memorial, picnicked on the lawn of the Lincoln Memorial, saw the Korean War Memorial, and then ended up at FDR.

Along the way we learned words – grass (unyasi), trees (mti), path (njia), fountain, waterfall (maanguko), kite (tiara), mud (matope) etc. Someday I will actually learn Swahili...

I explained (as well as I could in very simple English) the wars and events that inspired these memorials – I’m pretty sure they got it…but you never really know. 

As we walked through the fountains and waterfalls of the FDR memorial, we encountered a tour-bus-full of WWII vets. I explained that the old men in “Vets” baseball caps used to be soldiers who won the war. I also took a stab at explaining the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln (Me: There was a big war. America split in half. But Abraham Lincoln put it back together. So he’s a very good president!)

They had a great time! Everyone was tired by the time we dropped them off at their apartment, and then Dorothee and I drove back to DC, totally exhausted from a day of teacher-voice (sometimes I manage to annoy myself...).

But I had a narrow window – I needed to squeeze in a run before yoga so I headed out the door quickity-quick.

Which resulted in a yoga near-death experience. Well ok, so obviously that is a huge over-exaggeration…but it felt like near-death! A long day + a fast run + hot yoga = really dehydrated and really tired! The Bikram Yoga instructors always say, “If you ever feel dizzy or nauseous or overwhelmed just take a break and lie down.” 

Well on Saturday night I felt all three! It didn’t help that the hot-yoga studio was freakishly hot - we’re talking 115* when I left, which means it had to be way hotter during class!

But I lived to see Sunday. Which is a good thing because I did some serious baking in preparation for the 3rd and final Lord of the Rings party. This was it – The Return of the King. If you’re rolling your eyes right now, be grateful that the LOTR phase of Eat Run Read is over…BUT if you happen to be a fellow-fan, 

1) read about Party 1 and Party 2 

2) be jealous - I made lembas bread!

3) get excited because The Hobbit is going to start production in February!

Hope you had a good weekend too!