Posted by: bwoof | November 21, 2009

War Stories

Late last night I heard real war stories…not from veterans, not from textbooks, not from newspapers. But from teens!

While waiting to make sure that all the kids got picked up from the semi-formal, there was the usual long wait for someone who got lost en route.  In the lobby our conversations led to stories of how we all came to Canada. One of the students then explained his country of origin and how war had forced his family to escape.

In fact, he described in detail how his own father was the sole survivor amongst his family of brothers, uncles, grandpas and neighbours who had succumbed in a rage of ethnic cleansing. His stories of wire whips strangled around necks, or bodies in the streets, or rapes of the innocent were, frankly, more than I’d bargained for when I signed up to snoopervise a fun night. He described hate, real hate, and a long litany of vivid unforgettable images that he believes will never leave him. He will teach his own kids to hate…if he ever has any. It’s too grevious what has been done, he says, and only a complete return of his land will begin to heal the wounds that are just as raw years later.

He sees injustice everywhere and finds it incongruous that he lives in a city where the alleged perpetrators of his family’s demise have the freedom to send their children to the same schools that he’s attended. I believed him when he implied that it’s hard to study and focus in school when the anger and injustice seems so prevalent.

I drove home and in the wee hours of this morning wondered how an entire evening of teens having fun could co-exist with anger and disillusionment, all in the same few kids.  Today I’ve determined that I must learn more, not just about history, but about the effects of war and poverty, two things which my blessed comfy experiential background knows nothing about.

I’m humbled by the teen spirit which thrives at my school…in spite of the horrific past.

Grateful for:

  • Christmas breakfast and a fine speaker
  • safety at the semi-formal

Curious about:

  • the effects of poverty, isolation, and a strong universal need for belonging

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