Hi, My Name is Joe...

Before beginning my service, I had a conversation with one of my aunts who is an educator in Los Angeles. I vaguely remember discussing the challenges of teaching but I definitely didn’t fully grasp the weight of that reality. So, now, nine months into my teaching career, I am happy to report that teaching... is really hard. Really, really hard.

Twese Hamwe (All of Us Together)

My mouth dropped  as I scanned the first chapter of our new language books. Kinyarwanda, which is spoken by all 12 million of Rwanda’s inhabitants, is a beautiful and multifaceted language. The jaw-dropping moment occurred because of a connection I realized between the nature of the language and the nature of Rwandans themselves.

I Almost Ate a Rock

Somewhere in the midst of the beans and spinach, my teeth met something unrelenting and removing the obstacle I discovered, with some consternation, that I had almost swallowed a tiny rock. The rock-eating incident was evidently an omen of things to come because the road got tougher from there.

Wash Day

To wash or not to wash; that is not the question. It is Saturday morning which means that once again the time has arrived to engage in the *weekly ritual of washing my hair. I attempt to negotiate my way out of the somewhat arduous task. Perhaps I could postpone a few days and just spray my hair with a little water, a little leave-in conditioner? I could always just rinse and then do a full wash another time? But these gravity-defying, moisture-resisting mass of coils and curls atop my head don't negotiate; they dictate.  And I, humble servant that I am, obey.

Buhoro Buhoro

This is my moment, I think to myself. You’re going to use Kinyarwanda and describe to mama (host mom) what you observed. Right. But I only know about ten phrases in Kinyarwanda and most of them have to do with introducing myself and telling people where I’m from (as if the accent and general aura of being perpetually lost doesn’t fulfill the latter obligation).

25 x 25 (Five Decisions I Made)

2017 took me to Houston to visit a first cousin once-removed where I saw pictures, family bibles, and heirlooms some dating back to the mid 19th century. I trekked down to the Georgia Archives where I discovered a 3x great-grandfather who went from being a slave in Cobb County to a landowner shortly after emancipation. And, in May, I flew to San Diego where I filled in many missing 'leaves' from my dad's side of the tree.

25 x 25 (Five Books I Read)

My last several birthdays have occurred at pivotal moments of change in my life. My 21st birthday took place a few months before I moved to Boston to start graduate school. My 22nd birthday took place in Ghana where I was completing an internship.

Elegy for a Friend

“What does it take to write a book?” I asked. It was the Summer of 2015 and I had just moved in to the Brookline basement of 27 Monmouth Court a few weeks prior. I felt obliged and curious to ask given that one of the few things I knew about the man sitting across from me was that he was the author of 18 books.