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Friday, December 18, 2015

Less Out Of It On Africa

http://reflectionsfromthebellcurve.blogspot.com/2011/12/out-of-it-on-africa.html

Of the posts published in my first year of blogging, the one above - from this date in 2011 - is one that gives me perhaps the greatest satisfaction, in terms of my subsequent and purposeful learning. That is, four years later, I feel less out of it on Africa.

A small part of my growth here is related to my reading. In particular, William Boyd's gripping 1990 novel "Brazzaville Beach" comes to mind. But the majority of my education about Africa is connected - directly or otherwise - to the "Eat The World" project my wife and I initiated almost five years ago. The most recent gratifying example of how that project has broadened my understanding of the second largest continent occurred having breakfast at a restaurant in Brooklyn.

Noticing the t-shirt with a map of Africa worn by the young man waiting on me - and also detecting an African accent - I asked him about his origins. He said he'd come to the US from Burkina Faso. When I interrupted his description of where his native country was located to say I was familiar with it, it was easy to see the surprise on his face. Our conversation continued as I related how we'd featured cuisine from his home in one of our recent repasts - his broad smile spoke volumes. As I left the restaurant he went out of his way to ask my name.

If I'd met someone from Burkina Faso when I wrote the post at the top, my cluelessness about that small landlocked country in Africa would have been the same as it was about Ghana - the home of  our taxi driver Eddie - the inspiration for the original post. But the public commitment I made on 12/18/11 - to become less out of it on Africa - has since then continually prodded my learning. The very cool net result over the ensuing years has been several instances like my Burkina Faso aha. Where in your life have you made a commitment to learn more (about anything) and then seen a similar result?  

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