Kaiao, Mike, and I went to the refugee's house again tonight - I fell asleep on the way there, since it was already dark. But I woke up to change into civies and stayed awake for the rest of the time. I brought up the pointlessness of Daylight Savings Time - a topic which had apparently been discussed at length while I slept.
When we arrived at the house, the Jehovah's witness ladies were there, and this time, a teenage girl was with them, helping the kids with homework, trying to explain to Pascal what decimals and rounding was. A graphic showing full bars and bars .9 of their height helped; I worked with him from there. It was difficult for him to see 3.9 as one number and not '3' and '9.' It took me a while to explain the difference between a decimal point and a raised dot used to indicate multiplication, but once he figured that out, we were home free.
Which meant we practiced English vocabulary - something he was very good at. When we got to the food section, we made frequent trips to the kitchen to point at what we were talking about: apparently there are no cherries or pears or - gasp! - pies in Burundi. So next time, I'll have to bring them a pie. It's Thanksgiving, all. And Pascal did know what 'gasp' meant. The man deserves a pie.
But when we got to animals, he knew exactly what zebras were. I asked him if he'd seen them in Africa, and he gave me a look like "Of course, you silly American." And lions and giraffes.
He had another opportunity to give me the 'silly American' look: ice skating. Since there's no ice in Burundi, I explained how we strap blades on our boots and slide around on the ice. I mean, when you think about, it is pretty silly.
But, silliness aside, there's something deeper here: this family had no time for ice skating or pies or even decimals. They had more important things to worry about. Namely, staying alive. They couldn't survive with distractions.