Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Remember

In the past few weeks, conversations with friends and family have included the 10th anniversary of September 11th.  I don't have a t.v. in Mumbai (I know American readers - insert your gasps of shock and horror here) so I've had to do my own reading about what you all have been seeing daily on the news.  CNN, BBC, NY Times and other websites have given me glimpses and reminders of that tragic day.

My family shared I should be careful today.  There had been warnings on the news about possible attacks abroad.

American colleagues have asked whether or not we were teaching in Mumbai about September 11th.  I still don't have the answer to that one.

I'm in Mumbai.  Here, what's today about?  It's the 11th day in the Ganesh Chaturthi holiday. A special Hindu holiday.   That means the city of about 20 million people (mas or menos) will stop this evening, almost come to a standstill, due to all of the people going to the beach to celebrate.  Throughout the day there have been drums and bands and fireworks.  Ganesh Chathurti is about removing obstacles. I'm in India, not the U.S. so a mention here or there would be appropriate but more than that wouldn't be right for India either.

So, where does all of this thinking leave me?  It leaves me remembering the past.  It leaves me, just as it leaves many of my American readers, recalling where they were that day.  My sure Facebook statuses will be flooded with these memories.
My story is similar to many Midwestern suburban elementary teachers at the time.  That day I was teaching.  2nd grade.  A fushia or electric yellow note was placed on my desk while I was teaching a math lesson by my principal.  I read the note after I sent my students to specials.  There weren't any teaching colleagues free at that time so I couldn't talk to them about it.  I watched grainy t.v. with my colleagues in the KST lunchroom to catch glimpses of had happened.  We taught that day and made sure our students felt safe and cared for and protected while trying to manage our own emotions.

The next day we all had conversations with our students.  Mine was dispelling a false notion, from student with Mexican heritage, who thought that "people from his country had killed all those people using planes."  At that time the diversity where I taught was almost non-existent, so for him, he worried that his peers would be mad him.  He thought he was bad.

It leaves me remembering my emotions from the days that followed.
The days that followed, I remember I always went straight home from school.  I talked to my family more.   I watched t.v. in the evenings with my roommate, Andrea and wanted to always have someone around.  There were feelings of grief and hopelessness and pain.  Many thought, like myself, that this attack would unite the U.S. and bring people together in a way it hadn't been in a long time.

It leaves me thinking, that life's gone on.  That's part of moving on, isn't it?  The larger events that shape us, sometimes if the impact isn't direct and even when it is, part of the cycle is moving forward.
People here are talking about where they are going to see the immersions or those they went to see.  People are talking about their weekend chores and shopping and games and dinners.  I didn't seek out conversations with my colleagues about this either.  I didn't ask where they'd been or how they felt.  

So, what's the point of this post?  I'm still not sure.  I guess I've been thinking about how much things changed on September 11th.  Living as an American overseas I actually feel like sometimes those changes are magnified.  Sometimes the negative images are the only things covered in the press and topics that we see overseas.  Those are the things talked about by colleagues and fellow travelers; Americans and those of other nationalities. Travel and visa restrictions, questioning by burly FBI agents at airports and the U.S.'s involvements in conflicts abroad.   The important things get lost or drown out.  Initial impressions left by my country but not by me.  That's part of being identified in a larger group though.

I guess I'm also just processing both both how much being American has changed since September 11th.  Whether we live in the U.S. or elsewhere, it just has.  

So today, I'm saying that I do remember.  And remembering far away from those who I was with that day:
  • my former second graders who are now 17 and 18 years old, 
  • my KST colleagues who are in Elburn and many other places, 
  • my family and 
  • my roommate Andrea, 
feels strange but at the same time the way that it should feel.

No comments:

Post a Comment