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November 2013 Archives

The teacher stands beneath a leafy tree and towers over his young charges outside the Grand Mosque in Dakar.  He holds only a strip of leather lace and swats the children occasionally for any activity he perceives to be  lacking in discipline.

The children chant their lessons rocking backward and forward. They are reciting  Quranic verses written in Arabic on  wooden slates.
The slates are reminiscent of the tablet in which the Quranic laws were inscribed. A brown soluble ink is used to write each verse from the Quran. This verse is  washed away once it is memorized by the student.  The slate is placed next to the tree to dry.  The next verse in the sequence is written on a clean slate.
The older students (13-15) are separated from the younger students (5-6). They also chant their lessons rhythmically.  They appear not to notice me. They are completely absorbed in the verses of the Quran..
A headmaster was also present this day to observe all the lessons and monitor all activities related to the school.  My guide served as an interpreter. He had a working knowledge of Wolof, a native language, French, Arabic, and English. My guide made my requests known to the headmaster. I offered the children small oyster crackers and showed them how to raise their hands if they had received them. This worked out just fine because the teacher did not want the children to leave their places on the ground or become unruly while clambering for the snack. Raising their hands to gain attention returned the calm to the little group which was initially present. And now everyone seemed pleased.
The headmaster wrote a prayer for me on a wooden slate. He read it aloud in his miraculous voice.  It was indeed a touching gesture..a moment to treasure. 
After making a small donation to the school, it was time to visit the Grand Mosque and the Islamic Institute.
As-salam alaykum  Peace be onto you.

What is a President?


He is the embodiment of hope and the agent of change. President Obama: The most powerful leader in the free world, crisscrossing the nation: crisscrossing the globe to affect change.                                    

He is our 44th American President. The people's choice. The winner of a contentious race, he stands tall, with arms which remain   extended outward, embracing all of  his constituents. President Obama, the deliverer, securing the future dreams of Latino  youth caught is a quagmire of despair.                                            

He is Barack Hussein Obama, father, husband, scholar, and  friend : the one that burns the midnight oil in the White House as the nation sleeps...while  the disquieting events at home and abroad which need addressing, keep him awake at night.                

He is the Commander in Chief of the U. S. Armed Forces who organized and ordered the death of the venomous Osama  bin Laden.  As a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, he reigns as hope  personified in an era of economic depression, political challenges,  and environmental unrest.  

President Obama is "the best that is  yet to come." And  we trust that God will hold him close and grant him the fulfillment of the hope and change that he earnestly prays for.             

What is a Library?

A library's place is in the heart of a school. It is where different  nations are housed peacefully together on shelves in ordered silence. It is where new learning takes place with every turn of a page. It is where life unfolds and begs answers; Where old questions were answered and  new questions begin.
The library is the doorway to  past, present, and future all rolled into one history. It is where the very young and very old find refuge; And where their imagination can take flight. The library is where old tales are told and new tales are crafted; where special guests display their gifts and talents; where the applause from their audience beckons new patrons and new listeners into the author's circle.
Schools need libraries to showcase author's day, spelling bees, chess tournaments,puppet shows, read-aloud days, literacy teas, storytelling, and holidays. Schools need libraries to introduce students to great authors and even greater than life libraries. Libraries are needed  to introduce the youth of today to the world of computer technology,research, and cyberspace  of tomorrow.
Surely, libraries have something for everyone. Free access is granted.  Joining the Library costs nothing but means everything. We must protect our  school libraries as well as the public schools that house our libraries.
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