A visit to a far away exotic land, interacting with people who live a life unknown to myself, and I find the common ground of a smile.
The Maasai people of Kenya were welcoming and excited to share their way of life through demonstrations and conversations. We witnessed how to make fire, sing and dance, simple living structures, the care of goats and cows, and a social structure built on respect for each other.
And with all this new experience and flood of information, I could not help noticing the children. They were always looking, peering out from behind their mother’s skirts, or peeping from behind a tree or structure. They wanted to interact with us foreign adults but were held back by social convention. They knew the adults were talking and sharing. The child’s world was not on the agenda.
As is my natural inclination, I notice many things that are not obvious or my attention is being directed towards. I noticed the children. As some relaxed casual time became open, I spoke to them. I got down to their level. I played.
These Maasai children were exactly like every other child I had ever known. Curious, fun loving, shy, adventurous, etc. They reminded me that we are all the same. No matter our culture or customs, as children life is simple. It takes the adult mind to make it complicated.
They played with me because my behavior let them know “I see you, you matter.” How we say “hello,” matters. To give a look directly to the eyes and make the connection. And my gifts back were the genuine smiles of these children. To me, the greatest compliment.