Everything’s relative. While reading Friday’s State newspaper, I was impressed by a short article about students in Guinea. In fact, it was so brief that I probably would have missed it entirely except for the almost surreal looking photograph of people sitting under what appeared to be streetlights. Turns out they were students who had come to the airport in order to read.

Apparently there are about 10 million people who live in Guinea, and only about 1/5 of them have electricity. Consequently, the young people who are fortunate enough to go to school and who are serious about their studies flock to the airport to study at night. Why? Because that’s where the lights are. I stared at the picture for a few moments because it was both weird AND wonderful. Around and behind the readers was complete darkness, but shining down on their books was the gauzy glow of the street lamps. It crossed my mind that their books and their minds were both being illuminated. As a teacher and avid reader, I found this picture and the story it told absolutely wonderful.

Another reason I found the article and the message so arresting is because about three weeks ago, we lost our electricity for a few hours. Thunderstorms, severe lightning, and pelting rain assaulted our little neighborhood on and off for much of the evening. All of my children and grandchildren were visiting, and we ended up dining on the screened-in back porch because it was lighter out there…and cooler. Our meal consisted of grapes, bananas, bread, and a chicken and rice dish (chicken bog) that I had prepared earlier. With no electricity, I couldn’t prepare the scrumptious side dishes I had planned. The rain was so loud as it hit the acrylic (?) roof that we couldn’t even hold a conversation without practically yelling at each other. Even Brooke, my chatty little granddaughter, was subdued by Mother Nature’s shenanigans.

Looking back, it was fun, but while the meal was going on, my mind was abuzz with what we’d do if the electricity didn’t return soon. How could we sleep in such heat? And what about watching the movie we had rented? After seeing the students studying beneath the street lamps at the airport, all of my fretting seems a little ridiculous. It’s all relative, right?

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