Today was our first day “on the job”! We hosted 40+ children, a mix of school kids, street kids, and deaf children, for a day of learning nonviolent communication through making art. Energy was high throughout the day as we navigated our way through 3 languages (Dari, English, and Afghan sign language) and explored what it means to connect to others, feel feelings, and relate to universal human needs.
Regarding universal human needs, I’m proud to now be in the possession of a list of needs that was completely generated by the minds and voices of 40 enthusiastic Afghan children, ranging from ages 8-13, and from many different walks of life. I’m excited to show this to adult Americans who doubt that concepts like empathy, respect, love, kindness, giving, appreciation, happiness, and creativity could be universally understood and valued by children, especially across cultures. In fact, one of our Afghan organizers said later that he himself was shocked to hear the “advanced” concepts that his son was expressing during that activity.
I was moved to tears several times during the day, particularly whenever I heard the children happily singing “Baba Yo”, an African song that Catherine taught them, which I’ve now heard on three continents. The joy in their voices connected me to the universality of the human spirit and how easy and enjoyable it is to tap into. Really, love and interdependence is quite simple, even in a culture that’s been in a number of recent civil wars and been invaded and occupied by at least 5 different outside countries.
One memory that lingers sweetly in my mind: the non-deaf children seemed to particularly enjoy learning and expressing the sign language for “Love”; the end-of-the-day parting was filled with their smiling faces and their hands with the index and pinkie fingers raised and thumbs out. I am now totally fired up for our 5-day training with the Afghan adults, which starts tomorrow!
Warm smiles from Kabul, Jesse