By Billy Sadia
Posted in Africa Yoga Project Blog, on December 16, 2013
The screen saver on my computer shows two Maasai warriors touching fingers in extended side angle. People ask me to read the message on the top of the page which are words accredited to both Picasso and also to David Viscott. “The meaning of your life is to find your gift, the purpose is to give it away.”
“That’s an amazing screen saver,” some say.
And I know it is. It is a message that has transformed my life from a deeply rooted childhood curiosity to a life that feels more purposeful than it ever has before.
This year I am teaching third grade at the American School in Mexico City. Our primary years program is based on a curriculum that encourages children to develop their inquiry and natural curiosities. The central idea for our last Unit of Inquiry was: Native and modern cultures influence each other.
This was an opportunity for my kids to delve into a culture unbeknown to them. An opportunity for them to make discoveries, ignite curiosities, and for them to learn how alike, we all really are. I chose Maasai for our class.
As they began their research, each group focused on three lines of inquiry. They studied, the way of life, how their culture compares to others and how the culture has changed over time.
Thanks to modern technology, and the logistical work of Angie Wilkins, we were able to call Kenya and talk to Jacob via Skype.
I can’t tell you how excited (and even nervous) my kids were. Each group had selected one of their questions to ask. Our first call sent us to Kenyan music and we received a message saying it was busy. But during our second call, Jacob picked up.
My kids faces lit up with delight (as is mine right now reminiscing).
I haven’t met him yet, but sharing the Skype call with Jacob was proof that a person’s soul can bounce through timeless waves. My kids asked questions about houses, the colourful Maasai jewellery and what specific colors mean. They asked about clothing, arts and song, and then they asked about giving birth (yep – third graders). Their curiosity was met with enthusiasm and when our time was almost up, one of my girls shared a request. She asked if Jacob could sing us a song.
So, he did.
I can not recall what the words are in Maa (the language of the Maasai) but I can tell you the beautiful translation.
We are one under the sun,
We are one under the moon.
And with that, my children were left inspired. They created skits, games, posters and Google documents to share what they learned, and are in the process now of writing their first ever essays. They are inspired, they feel connected; they are intrigued.
This, is education.