Students and teachers have shared with me some of the essays written in response to reading The Good Braider. One student, Steven Kidder, wrote an essay about PTSD. It was both well researched and also deeply personal, and his personal response added power to the facts about PTSD. In Viola he saw a person experiencing flashbacks to terror during the war in Juba in the same way his brother-in-law experienced flashbacks. His brother-in-law had returned home from two tours in Afghanistan. Steven writes that his brother-in-law “avoids large crowds of people, because it causes him to feel anxious and uncomfortable. He immediately feels he is at risk in those situations, so he avoids them at all costs. This occurs for Viola when Jamal runs off and is picked up by a couple of men. As opposed to thinking that they are going to simply return him she thinks they are going to attack her like the soldiers did…Even after she recognizes one of them as her classmate Andrew, she can’t escape that feeling of impending terror …” Steven wrote the essay for Cathy’s Eaton’s Introduction to Literature class. Prof. Eaton’s assignments seem to honor both her students’ life experiences (she explains that a number of her students are veterans themselves) and their diversity of cultures. Steven taught me new facets of the struggle with PTSD. He ends his essay with a call to action: “Though there are preliminary studies being done to see the effectiveness of interpersonal psychotherapy and mindfulness in coping with PTSD, there’s still a lot of work to do. We must work together to make sure these stories are heard and that all the Violas in the world know that they and their stories are very important.” Thank you, Steven.
Many have asked about a best way to help the people of Nepal. I met teachers with World Education Nepal during my visit there in early April. They are setting up “child friendly places” for earthquake survivors. These are places for “children to continue learning while they wait for schools to reopen.” They welcome donations and have a link on their page. https://www.facebook.com/worlded
For a short story of my journey to Nepal in photos please click on Nepal Slide show I am not certain of the earthquake damage in many of the places I visited. Shirley Blair at the school for Himalayan Children (SMD Boarding School) near Boudha Temple is Kathmandu reports that students and staff are safe. I hope to hear back from others soon. Among the photos is a picture of women eating at a Saturday festival at the Swayambhunath Temple, also called the Monkey Temple. I heard today that although the temple is severely damaged, people still gather to honor the holy days.