I had thirteen students in my class for most moments of the day.
We started around 9am, and finished around 4pm, with a little bit of chaos in between.
“Class” seems too formal a word. I wish you could have seen it. I wish you could have seen the dirty walls, the printer on the floor printing out our materials, the ants invading the walls and floor, and the small table with all thirteen gathered around. I wish you could have smelled the overwhelming scent of betel nut and seen the plastic bag of betel nut being passed around throughout the class; or heard the translator speaking over the betel nut in his mouth.
It was the epitome of grassroots in all its ambition and simplicity.
It went wonderfully, though. Truly wonderfully.
As I was being introduced in a completely over-qualifying manner, I was thinking of how I might introduce myself to a group, explaining how in the world I ended up here.
And that’s when it hit me: I studied political science for this. Just exactly for this. I wanted to understand politics so I could make a difference in Burma; I’ve repeated that so many times when asked why the heck I chose that field without going on to law school or grad school or, well, anything. Every time it felt so ambitious: a young kid with a free degree from the University of Central Arkansas wanting to influence the politics of Burma?
But now she’s here, and in a simple, hopeful way, she’s attempting to affect politics directly through the people, even if its in this dirty, hot classroom while the students chew mildly-addictive stimulants.
And I was so thankful. Thankful for my degree, and the opportunities I grew up with in America. Thankful for the phone conversation with my brother in law as I sat outside at university trying to sort out what major I should switch to next and what I really wanted to do with my life; thankful he uttered the words “political science.” Thankful for my favorite professor who met with me repeatedly and patiently helped me determine ways to make every class and every paper apply to Burma; thankful for his help in the past couple months pointing me in the right direction. Thankful for all that God has orchestrated to bring us to this shady little border town to be a small part of something so much greater than ourselves.