17.3.13

Slumber Parties

This week, things began to return back to normal. It was the first week since all of the emotional turmoil that we have had classes. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, and was told that most of the students would probably be rather somber. There is a forty-day morning period in Egypt after a death, so all the students who were close with Sandy will wear black for the forty days, and nobody will have any celebrations of any kind. So even if everyone acted normally, the student body would still be a visual reminder of the despair that many are still dealing with.
I took time in my psychology class, who are almost all Junior classmates with Sandy, to teach them about the five stages of grief this week. I think of everything that has happened since, that was almost the most heart-wrenching. The information was helpful for them, but two of the students, one male and one female who were very close with Sandy, were just very quietly crying through the duration of the class period. I just wanted to go cheer them up, but culturally they think it is inappropriate to experience/exhibit joy or happiness after a death during the mourning period. So I could try my best to comfort them, but beyond that, there is not much else to do. It is hard dealing with such a trauma from across cultural lines, because I don't ever know what might be helpful and good, and what might just be bothersome and unwarranted.
The girls in the dorm have been having a hard time this week as well. Sara, Mary, and I have been taking turns going over and staying the night with them.
Up until this point, I have only stayed with the girls in the dorm two times. Before any of this business with Sandy ever happened, I had honestly been intending on making more of an effort on going over and sleeping over with them. It means so much to them, and is helpful for building up our friendships.
I suppose recent events have acted as a catalyst for me to make concrete those efforts. This week, I had a sleepover with the girls three different times. Two of the nights, I stayed in the room that Sandy used to live in. The girls there are having a particularly hard time, and needed the extra support.
I think that was a good place for me to stay at first. I only know two of the girls (out of six) who stay in that room, and it was definitely a bonding time for us all. I got to know them all much more intimately, and they got to know me a lot better. I think we developed much more of a mutual respect throughout the experience. The third night I stayed with my closest Egyptian friend here, Amar, which was really good because I have kind of neglected our friendship over the past few months out of lack of daily contact. She was also very close to Sandy and had been having a difficult time.
Normally, the girls will give one of their empty (twin-sized) beds for me to sleep in when I go over to stay, which is fine. My love language is physical touch though, so when Amar wanted me to share her bed with her I was touched. Perhaps the idea of sharing a twin-sized bed might sound incredibly unappealing to many people, especially since the heat has steadily been rising around here, but it meant a lot to me. To offer to be in such close-contact with somebody is a sign of emotional closeness as well. And its not like we were cuddled up type-touching, just very close in a space reserved for good friends and sisters. Which is what I'm starting to feel like, which is going to make leaving all the more difficult.

With all the things happening this week, I've been decently anxious. I no longer have a grader, so my workload has doubled. My family is coming to visit next week (!) which is incredibly exciting for me, but also very stressful. My mother and brother are coming for eleven days, and five of those are days I'm getting classes covered so that I can travel with them. That means I have to lesson-plan two weeks in advance, with no grader to help me with all the extra work. I'm also trying to make travel arrangements, and spend time at the girls dorm... Essentially my free time has been cut down to close to nothing. With all this going on though, I took some time yesterday to wander around campus and take some pretty pictures of the little things I could find. Spring arriving has brought a heat wave - it got up in the 90's this week - and along with it some new plants and colors.








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