Monday, November 8, 2010

Turning the Tables

Maybe we're just a bit mean. But when a group of wealthy, entitled students came to us for a 3-day workshop to help them understand what it is like to have a disability, we couldn't resist actually showing them.

They were late. By an hour and a half. So we felt justified in locking the gate:

and putting a sign - in Hindi, which most of them couldn't read - explaining that the key was on the arch above the gate:

and that on no account were they to climb up to get it down. The gate would break. They had to think of a better plan.

They arrived in a mob, all irritated about having been stuck in traffic for an hour and a half and anxious to begin.

First their teacher called me several times to say there was a lock on the gate. Cheerfully, I agreed (from inside the building, watching him on his phone as I spoke with him), but nonetheless insisting that they come on in. I hung up. He called again, sure I hadn't understood. I said "Yes, I know. Come on in." He called again. I hung up. Slowly they deciphered the sign. Shouted their protests. Demanded that the teacher call me yet again. And then began to find alternatives:

It was the stick and the tall boy which finally did the trick.

But when they finally gained entrance, it was with an air of aggrieved annoyance, not triumph. We talked to them about how every day, every moment is like that for people with disability and their families. How it's not a game, how it's not fun and how often a person is alone trying to find the way in with no friends to share the experience or help with ideas and solutions.

Did they get it?

Hard to say.

When asked to make fun of people with disability, they joined in with alacrity and panache. We are counting on the nights, those moments in bed just before sleep when the memory of the day's events replays and alone with their thoughts they consider what might have been different and how their own role in the scheme of things can influence for good and for bad.

We are praying for the good.

We believe in the good hearts of our children.

1 comment:

Kanica... said...

A wonderful and a thought provoking incident!