Today was cool, way cool, like Justin Bieber prodding his way through a crowd of emphatic teenage fans, pawing and scraping to get a touch of his hand or eye contact, glance, smile, anything. Only, I don't think I could have made a worse comparison relative to this place; East Africa. The idea of anything American, or anything mainstream, by my rose-tinted standards simply fade like the color of this young man's t-shirt. No, I make the comparison because it simply makes me laugh and quite literally, that's how the kids at Mianzini Primary School, Dar es Salaam, made me feel today; like a total rock star.
Cultures fascinate me, I must say, and I suppose the more I travel the more I'm intrigued by my own culture, what makes it tick and why. These kids freely gave me love, song, dance and a farewell speech because they know no other way. Perhaps to them it just seems like the right thing to do? Well, I just gotta say, I can't disagree. Imagine welcoming strangers of all colors, creed or race with warmth enough to make even a hardened heart glow.
I think it noteworthy to also mention that despite the school's recess yard of hard-packed clay and the game wire fencing in the window frames, stains on the ceilings and cracks in the concrete, potholed floors and wobbly wooden chairs, the place was rich with children's laughter and a sense of community that sucks you in so honestly that you never wanna leave.
So why would I post a single frame of a single boy from a morning spent shaking hands and fist pumping with what felt like nearly all 2000 students? Simply put, this picture touches me - the composition, the color and expression, the rain falling into blurry eyes and dripping down his cheeks. It all just sorta sums up something I have floating around in my heart and can't quite put into words.