Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Say "cheese"

Andrina Miss and Sara Miss
Just a week and one day after arriving in Bangladesh, it was picture day at school. That’s right, my face will forever grace the pages of the 2010-2011 Sir John Wilson School yearbook. I’d been told well ahead of time (which in reality probably about 3 days), that I should make sure to wear something very colorful for the photo. Obligingly I donned my new salwaar kameez. Aside from the usual, “aren’t you cold?” I received a flurry of compliments today – from staff and children alike. It seems they were all very pleased to see that I’ve embraced the Bangladeshi culture.

The children showed up wearing their best – slacks and shirts for the boys (Tahzeeb took it a step beyond and wore dress pants, a button up shirt and a dressy vest), and fancy dresses for the girls. As if picture day wasn’t exciting enough, it was also Naveed’s birthday. The cake, decorated with gobs of frosting and a picture of Spiderman, proclaimed, “OMG. Now I am 5.” Thankfully the party wasn’t until after the pictures were taken, because mixing cake, nice outfits, and a bunch of five and six years olds is a recipe for disaster (or a laundry detergent commercial).

Sara Miss and Andrina Miss with the Tulips

The Early Years Teachers

In the week since I arrived, some of the children have learned my name, so a select few call me Andrina Miss or Miss Andrina. Josias, however, calls me English Miss, because I’m constantly telling him that I don’t understand Bangla. It seems the kids have a tendency to associate people’s skills with their names, the computer teacher’s name is Computer Miss and the music teacher, you guessed it, is Music Miss.

Aside from English Miss, I’m also known as American Miss. One afternoon when I was shadowing the KG I Lily class, a boy asked me, “Are you Bengali?” To which I replied, “no.” He smiled and with a laugh declared, “I knew that. You’re skin is too white.” Then without missing a beat asked, “so, America or Canada?” He was quite excited when I replied America, and, as many others do, began to rattle off all the relatives that he has there. With his enthusiasm for America, I’m not sure he’ll ever learn my real name. Yesterday, when I left school he turned to me and waving vigorously shouted, “goodbye American Miss!”

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