Sunday, September 11, 2011

14 Cows for America

A beautifully written and illustrated picture book about how the Massai people made their own offering of love and goodwill to the people of NY following 9/11. Three years ago, I was fortunate to visit Tanzania in East Africa as part of a grad school class I took at Arcadia University. While I was there I met Massai warriors and was honored to witness some of their long held traditions. This book brings me back. A native Kenyan living in NY at the time of the attack on the World Trade Center, studying to become a doctor, decides to do something. He returns to his village and tells the story of that fateful day. He has come to have a cow blessed to give in memory of the victims of the attack. The people, so moved, are able to raise enough to do ate, instead, 14 cows. In a Massai tribal ceremony, they present these to an ambassador. At first, I worried that they were sacrificed for meat, but instead, they are on a preserve, and the herd is flourishing and multiplying. I think the same can be said (well, except for economically, I suppose) for New York. People have continued on, and, hopefully, are more tolerant, accepting, and understanding of each other. Immediately following 9/11, there was a lot of suspicion in our country, but my hope is that we have all learned to love.

14 Cows for America is a book that can be shared with all ages to discuss feelings surrounding 9/11 and the events that happened that day, as well as the profound feelings of civic responsibility that many felt and the desire to do SOMETHING. This story can spark a greater conversation about what our youngest (and oldest, and all those in between) students can do in the face of tragedy. To help.

Over the past few years, as a teacher, I have seen incredible examples of the giving and philanthropic nature or our students. Following Hurricane Katrina, we collected toys and books for students in shelters. We collected Pennies for Pennies for Peace. After the tsunami last year, our students folded 1,000 cranes and raised $5,000. Students initiated a fundraiser to raise money for the residents of Joplin, MO.

The students, teachers, administrators, and parents of our school community have been so generous, not just in a monetary fashion, but generous with time, creativity, ideas, and heart. I feel lucky to be a part of this community.

I've gotten a bit away from my book talk though, haven't I? 14 Cows for America is also a story of generosity of spirit, and people doing what they can to help.

1 comment:

  1. I've been bringing this book around to my grade 4 and 5 teachers this week, basically bullying them into reading it with their classes. Lucky for me, it's been a hit each time. Gives me chills.