a week and a half ago, after five nights with new friends, we were handed the keys to our new flat. and four busy days and an ikea trip later we had just about everything unpacked, built, organized, ready. though it still seems unreal, i can confidently say we live in glasgow now.
and we settle into life here. we walk, ride the bus, explore old churches, buy cheap necessities at the ubiquitous charity shops, visit parks, acquire library cards. the little things of life, of learning a new place.
and school. all week i’ve been attending orientations, meeting folks, making connections, all giving a clearer picture of what happens when classes begin on monday. i’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. the program director spoke to the assembled community development cohort of the overall aims of the course, the work that follows, of seeking out the marginalized, undermining oppression, and all those heavy, incredible things to which i feel the pull. i tried not to tear up as he spoke. i am not daunted by the long reading lists, i embrace them. i am glad of the chance to read not only because i am interested in the subject (and would probably do all that reading in my own time otherwise), but also because it is necessary for my academic advancement. i hope i do not regret these words in the following months.
and ministry. paul and emma showed us around this week to a handful of the various outlets to meet and support refugees and asylum seekers, the churches, organizations, individuals involved. meals, assistance to the destitute, english classes, women’s groups, sports, the ever-present opportunities to simply meet people who may need a friend. we saw one long-established church operation that felt a lot like the food and clothing distributions of my former work with salt and light in champaign. and we met with the dynamic leader of another church offering services to asylum seekers and refugees, had a wonderful conversation on what they do, hope to do, how things might develop, our possible places. we are excited for these opportunities, for the friendships and connections to be formed, and interested also in what possibilities there are for community involvement in our own diverse corner of the city. emma gave us the rundown on the legal side of things. it is a curious, confusing, sometimes cruel system of hoops and paperwork asylum seekers must navigate. we shook our heads at the little injustices, fumbling attempts at support, the restrictions on everyday life, and how these things affect in myriad ways a family or individual.
all that to say, we won’t be idle this year.
before things really get busy i am still reading voraciously, immersing myself in texts that fuel and inform my coming research, based, often, on my inability to shake myself of our previous rwandan existence. i’ve read through the brilliant rage of fanon’s the wretched of the earth, ngugi wa thiong’o’s piercing decolonizing the mind (my first book checked out from the university library), the satirical plays of wole soyinka, freire’s wonderfully insightful pedagogy of the oppressed, and even the depressingly informative a people’s history of the united states by howard zinn. these things deepen the unease i feel in this world. and this is good. as we hang out with broken people we need this perspective. we need to see the cracks, large and small, to patch them. we must be, as tiring as it is at times, constantly unsatisfied with the way things are, which empowers us to challenge the oppressive structures around us, change them or tear them down, rebuild. i like life, i like to laugh, but i don’t think i would be doing my duty to the world if i wasn’t righteously angry at least some of the time.