Sunday, March 23, 2008

The first conversation

It has been an exceptional evening, one of unanticipated joys, and even though I wrote to you this morning, I have to catch a few more moments in writing before they are lost! I guess the magic started this afternoon, when I gave the stickers that you sent to the kids in my family and our neighbors. Everyone wanted one; they each chose carefully (pink being very popular), and proudly displayed their choices on their foreheads (who taught them that's where stickers go?). I took a picture for you! The specialness of the evening came at dinner: Haoua and I had our first conversation. For real! Until now, I've only been able to manage stilted sentences and boring questions, but tonight it was as if I'd suddenly figured something out. Nigeriens don't usually converse during meals, but after dinner is prime talking time. Women often visit each other at this time, and they'll sit out on a mat with the kids, to nurse and talk. Well, tonight Haoua's sister came over, and for the first time ever, I understood more words than I missed! I could actually follow the conversation and contribute. Everyone was very impressed! We talked about all of the volunteers Haoua has hosted, all of Abdu Salaam's new words, the health of the neighbors, the difference in what dogs look like here vs the USA, what we do at school all day, and a few other things. Hallelujah! Baby steps! I feel awesome. And the crowning moment came at the end, when Haoua said "Sannu da hira!" which basically means "what a great conversation!" True.

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