An elderly African man dressed in brightly colored traditional African clothing had sat in the opposite aisle-seat to mine for what seemed liked days but in reality had been only about 16 hours. We had not spoken one time. Granted it was an evening flight and everyone was tired, but I had tried to make eye contact to engage him in some way several times. I was dying to have a conversation with someone who was not a Westerner. This was my first time traveling outside North America.
When our Swiss Air Boeing 737 landed in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, I stood up to stretch my legs and soundly cracked the side of my head right upside the luggage compartment above me. To my surprise and to my embarrassment, the same African gentleman who had seemed so austere and uninterested in human interaction on the flight, immediately jumped up and yes…, he grabbed my head and began to rub it!
“Ah! Are you ok my friend?! You’ve injured your head.” he said, as he continued the rubbing. Not wishing to seem rude I uncomfortably smiled and thanked him and turned to grab my bag.
I was in pain. That had really hurt. But I’m a big guy and was pretty uncomfortable with the head rubbing so I quickly reached up and grabbed my silver Brookstone Dash carry-on from the bin. That didn’t stop him however from massaging my head. Once again I thanked him and shook his hand and told him I was fine. He smiled and said, “Of course you are fine! You are big… an American footballer.” I laughed. He had no way of knowing how untrue that was. I mean yes I am a big guy, but I am no “footballer” I am the most uncoordinated person I know.
Nevertheless this began my fantastic adventure in Africa. Over the next several days, I would be presenting to groups about dyslexia and disabilities, and meeting people who did not know me but who welcomed me with open arms, and this amazing kindness shown me on the plane, however uncomfortable it may have been, would be followed up with many, many more acts of kindness toward me by Eastern Africans both on the mainland and on surrounding archipelagos. I planned to teach and speak in Africa, but Africa taught and spoke to me. More to come soon about my “edventure” to the equator.
*By the way, soon I will begin dabbling in some video blogging. I know people call that a “vlog” but that just sounds ridiculous. Haha. Anyway, we have some important things to address. Many changes are taking place in the world of dyslexia. Some are great, others could be quite damaging to our cause. I’ll be sharing some ways you can get involved, not only in Tennessee but internationally.