Among all the waiting people in the lounge of the Naperville railway station, there was a curious pairing of people interacting across those ancient looking benches: Two brown skinned girls with black hair of early school age, and a white, grey-haired lady. The lady was sitting properly, her carry-on luggage neatly in front of her, reading from one of these privileged electronic gadgets. Leaning over her shoulders from the other side of the wooden bench, the two girls with a pinkish-enclosed phone gadget.
“Do you remember those numbers?” –
“Of course I do, but it is hard for me to do” –
“Then start with the 8” –
Random math tutoring in progress. Among the girlish chit-chat, the lady who looks like a retired school teacher coaches the girls in solving a simple math question she made up on the spot. At the same time she engages in a respectful inter-generational, cross-cultural exploration. She learns a little bit about the girls, and reveals a little bit about her life. Memories of unequal power shared equally.
Later on, I overheard the older girl reading out loud. The two girls are proudly holding the shiny tablet with many hands. Slowly, the text from the e-book filled the mostly empty space of the waiting room; again, the lady helping out with difficult pronunciations, and encouraging the girls to make sense of big words in children’s language. Facilitating instead of lecturing. Shared success instead of fear of the other!
If we only could engage on a daily basis in such a meaningful way across the perceived boundaries that unnecessarily divide humankind. Random human beings defying the institutionalized political and societal paranoia in the self-proclaimed greatest nation on earth. I hope to make this post a first in series about witnessed acts of kindness along my journey.