People are People, They Say

“One of the things you’ll find,” my grandfather told me just before I left, “is that people are people no matter where you are.”  And already I’m beginning to see that he is right.

Of my thirty students I have at least three Korean children, two Finnish, four Papua New Guinean, and a good mixture of American, German, Australian, and British lads and lasses.  All in all they make up quite the crew.  But if you were to read their “About Me” essays, which I always have my students write for their first homework assignment (thanks to suggestion of one of my former students), you’d find some remarkable similarities to my students back home.

Before we move on, though, some pictures – in honor of the school’s multi-culturalism, here are the 8th grade lockers:

Of course all children are different, here as well as anywhere else.  But the differences between children here and children back home are not so striking as you might imagine.  There are, to be sure, far more mentions of farm activities (things like, “Every morning I milk the cow”), lots of references to the missionary work of their parents (“Right now they are revising the Kamano Bible”), and a few anecdotes that wouldn’t make much sense in the greater Birmingham area (“I like hunting wild pigs in the forest,” for instance).

Nonetheless, here are a few lines that could have come from straight from my students in Birmingham:

“On the subject of my parents: don’t ask… Both of them embarrass, annoy, and attempt to help me through life with varying degrees of success.” 

“I don’t really have a favorite food because I love all food except vegemite, pickles, and another food I don’t remember.”

“…my favorite color is a rainbow…”

But then there are a few to remind me that while people are people everywhere, circumstances are not the same everywhere.  One of my students, for example, wrote about a pet python his family kept for a few days before the previous owner demanded it back.  As the story goes, without any expression of shock or horror, “the snake went on to get married to a man in the village that divorced his wife to marry the snake.  The snake was said to become a woman at night (scary to think that that snake was in our backyard inside a cage…).”

If nothing else, this demonstrates the ever-present need for Bible translation in the area.

9 thoughts on “People are People, They Say

  1. i love the flag lockers. The locks, also, show, that “people are people”…fallen people. “My favorite color is a rainbow”; I love that:)
    I’ve never liked snakes…bet they’ve caused many a divorce.

  2. I also love the flag lockers! The snake story is horrifying. However, the one about the dog being eaten by the snake then being still alive is also horrifying. Speaking of dogs, are there many there? Have you met any fun furry creatures?

  3. I also love the flag lockers!! What a wonderful way to remind them of their home country, where people love them and are praying for them. The story of the man marrying the snake gives me the creepy crawleys! Ugh.

  4. I am indifferent about the flag lockers. I do think that I would be worried as well if I had a snake that turned into a woman at night. I hope you are close to teaching at least two other people the wonders of Canasta. Take care to stay away from the cannibals. Stay well.


  5. Enjoying your blogs, Alan! Praying for you there, too! Thanks for all these great stories and pictures! They are so lucky to have you as their teacher! <3

  6. “I am indifferent about the flag lockers.” -haaaa! Thanks, Bozo. I haven’t taught Canasta to the masses yet, but I’ve started making inquiries of the folks I’ve gotten to know. Fortunately no one’s tried the “oh, yeah, I think my great grandmother used to play that game…” on me. So hope remains.


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