I was sat on a bank of orange dirt that made up the ground, looking at the vast number of stunning, shining stars. They were amazing. I was in the western cape province in the beautiful South Africa. The stars are different in the southern hemisphere, theres just more, and they shine brighter, especially outside the cities. They were amazing in Uluru and Alice Springs - Australia. The trouble there was that Alice Springs was such a tiered place, a pitiful town. An Australian Aboriginal heritage town aimed at helping them prosper and join to achieve with the white people that had oppressed them so badly.
But instead of that they just sat in the street, staring at our group with sunken eyes. Especially the children. Children have a way of just staring, showing no emotion. You know the one - the big eyed innocent one without judgement or suspicion.
That day in Paarl, WC, SA I was waiting for my ride back to work, standing outside the shopping mall eating some cookies. There was a little coloured boy around 9 or 10 years old going through the bins (they call mixed race people coloured over there... something that shocked me on the first day as a work college - and not soon after dear friend described herself as coloured and her friend as black despite herself being much darker!).
He tentatively made his way over to where there was an old strawberry flavoured milk carton beside me and asked me if it was mine. No, i said, its not. He took it, sat on top of a bin, and poured it into his hand, smelled it, licked it, smelt it again, licked it again, and then drank the remaining drops of the strawberry milk carton from the palm of his hand. Hey, I said, the I just gave him the rest of the bag of cookies I was eating as I waited for my ride. He looked at me then with that stare, he didn't even look at the cookies as he took them.
I think this is the stare of learning. Its literally a blank stare. Developmental psychologists say we are all born with a 'blank slate', or 'tabla rasa' and that rules, social norms and values get 'written' onto it. So these blank stares that children give you is their stare of being written on. I hope that my handwriting was nice!