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Wooden Backboards and Bent Rims

I think that there is a tacit understanding amongst the group that we’re to experience Madagascar as just that—a group. In the same way that we expect, or are expected to, experience this country in our own individual ways, we have also had to consider how exactly to share in a collective experience; how to continuously seek to better or augment the time that we spend together. Such are my ruminations, at least. As I am writing this, it is my guess that it’s our sixth day into our journey, and I can definitively state that while I know there is still an unfathomable amount of discovery ahead of each of us, the time that we’ve spent together so far—flying on planes, talking on bus rides, eating together, playing ratscrew or spoons or basketball—will be some of the most valuable time that we spend on this trip; time that I envision treasuring just as much as we treasure and moments to come.

In the same vain, a collection of twelve, clamorous Americans is just as bewildering and intriguing to the Malagasy people as these people, and this place, is to us. In the same way that we expect to be enthused or invigorated by our time in this country, the people of that we have encountered in this country so far, are enthused and invigorated by us. This dichotomy is one that our instructors have urged us to become privy to. Now, I do not mean to insinuate in any way that us coming to Madagascar is indisputably a beneficial thing for the Malagasy people, or that they necessarily enjoy us being here. I’m sure that we portray ourselves as obnoxious and ignorant at times—rather than the studious or considerate, or benign, travelers that we consider ourselves to be. After Ben and I played basketball with some kids in Ampefy (I picked up a triple double and I’m almost positive Ben dropped 30 on em), all the people who had gathered to watch us stormed the court. Probably forty or fifty Malagasy people greeted us as though we were NBA players; treating us to a game seven NBA Finals worthy celebration. And one thing that I wished I could have expressed to these people is that to me, playing on a rocky, uneven court with wooden backboards and rims that had no nets, was more thrilling and transformative an experience than if I were to play in an actual NBA game. This exchange of graciousness and gratitude is something that I wish to note to everyone following back home, and to explore myself in the coming months.

 

Song lyric to consider of the week:

“Sometimes the light’s all shining on me, other times I can barely see.”

– Grateful Dead