Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Our great big world...

One of my most memorable New Year’s Eve celebrations in my young life was the one at the turn of the millennium. While the rest of the world was trying to outdo their neighbors in either Y2K panic or frenzied jubilation, my family was packing our bags for a special, one-night vacation.

We quickly loaded our clothes and toiletries, eager to get on the road and experience one of the biggest events of our lifetime - the change of the millennium. Our excitement would have you think we were headed to New York City, or Paris or Sydney to ring in the year 2000 with millions of other revelers. But this was not the case – we were going someplace better. We were headed all the way across town to the unoccupied house of an aid worker friend.

Why was this house special? For starters, the aid compound had electricity. With this privileged existence came the real prize – satellite TV. We bundled ourselves into our rough and tumble 4x4 and drove through the dusty town as evening fell. We quickly settled in to our home away from home and immediately turned on CNN International. My family gathered in front of the flickering screen, soaking up the images of the outside world and its rich diversity of celebrations. We saw amazing fireworks, huge parades and extravagant shows. Outside, the donkey started braying. We saw people dressed in their glitz and glamour braving the cold to giddily grip their microphones. Through our window came the far-off wailing of a Muslim call to prayer. As CNN’s coverage flew us around the world to witness noisy celebrations, we gathered together as a family on the concrete floors and lit a few quiet, orange candles.

As midnight struck, we sat around illuminated by the twin glows of our candles and the TV and enjoyed being a part of the great big, beautiful human race. It was fun to feel a part of something spectacular even though it stood in stark contrast to the reality of life in Chad. But despite the fun being held elsewhere, as I looked outside my screen door, I remember thinking – there is no other place I would rather be than right here, right now. I love my family and I love Africa.

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