After a twenty-four hour journey home to Alaska from DC, I should be beyond exhausted. Instead, I am energized. From my fantastic TGC Symposium roommate to the amazing IREX staff, from the motley crew with whom I’ll be traveling to India to my dear friend, the New York Times, my weekend was filled with overwhelming brilliance. The fellowship went from being a distant abstraction to an intellectual, spiritual and physical adventure in the making. This was my first lesson. . .
I’m a wannabe yogi. I’m a student of the history of colonization throughout the world. I thought I saw India. After this weekend, however, I realize that I was just another person who’d victimized her through cultural appropriation and patronizing sympathy. I’m ashamed of myself. I know better. I have traipsed so many paths as a woman, teacher of indigenous children, and an African American who has taken the long journey home to Africa, back through the “door of no return”that should have prevented this. But knowing something intellectually and doing it deliberately are, indeed, two different things. After this weekend, I am cognizant of my need to spend more time with India. I need to get to know her by transferring all of the skills I’ve used in other contexts to our budding friendship. I need to listen to all of her stories, not just the ones that interest me.
Thank goodness I got a wake-up call. I’m thankful the TCG Symposium sessions provided me with the opportunity to self-reflect and self-correct. In the short time since I departed DC, I have already closely read several articles I would have skimmed before. I am about to lay out my plan for more reading, viewing films, and exploring music and food prior to our July departure. Maya Angelou advised, “when you know better, you do better.” Do better I shall. . .