Children, Living in This World

Human Faces

The Sophomore Class of Hippy Dippy High School finished its Humanities expedition, "The Human Face of Human Rights," with an exhibition at a local gallery devoted to documentary film-making and photography. Snowman and his group interviewed Gordana, a young woman from Bosnia who now lives here in City By the Sea, learning about her life as a little girl during the war, the way she and her brother managed not only to survive but to play and find the fun that children must have, despite worrying about their father in jail and the scarce rations the family had to eat.

The Princess and I were late to the event due to a conflicting piano lesson, and we missed the speeches and a choral reading from the oral histories taken by the students.

When I arrived, a teacher I have known for some years, glowing with the excitement of the evening, said, "Snowman was WONDERFUL! He could have held back, but he didn’t, and his reading was WONDERFUL!!!"

We wandered around the gallery, perusing the other student displays, and then had a chance to read Snowman’s complete oral history (each student in the group wrote a paper about the interview subject).

As we walked back to the car, I asked him about the choral reading.

"What was it exactly? Mrs. TeacherLady was quite excited about your participation."

"She was?"

"Yes, I’m sorry I missed it."

"It was nothing."

Snowman tends to be quite nonchalant about his own achievements, so I pressed him.

"Tell me more about it."

"It was nothing, really. We each read a sentence from our oral history, just standing in different places in the gallery. Lots of people didn’t even do it."

"But yours must have been a really wonderful sentence, if Mrs. TL was so pleased with you. What was it?"

He pulled a folded piece of scrap paper from his pocket and read:

"She reasoned that she could still take many guns apart from memory."

Although we laughed on our charming street in the Old Port as we reached the car, wondering why that sentence seemed so wonderful to the teacher, upon reflection I think I understand. Our little city has become home to many, many people with stories like Gordana’s. They know what the world is really like, a place where the deaths of 33 people in one day cannot shock the way it does here on our protected brick sidewalks and cobblestone ways that pass chic local shops and the ubiquitous Starbucks.

Sometimes I wonder if I am living in Disney World.

3 thoughts on “Human Faces”

  1. The local university in our city had a lecture last night that reminded me that there is nothing Disney-esque about our world. We heard tough questions from 3 men who remember a home like Gordana’s.
    I was reminded (though I didn’t really need the reminder) that human rights are a romantic ideal in our little city.

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  2. I’m with Mrs TeacherLady. In its rhythm and extreme concision, that sentence packs a heckuva punch, a punch that goes right through the thin drywall of a Disney set. Good man, Snowman.

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