|Wednesday, 14 December 2011 19:17|
I See You
by Kelly Salasin
One of the things that delights me most about children and elders–and particularly foreigners–is the way they see the world; and how they express that; and how that opens me to seeing things differently too.
This past week, I joined fellow NGO representatives from around the world at the UN for the 56th Annual Commission on the Status of Women. It was an international scene with women attending from every part of the globe, delightfully dressed in traditional garments.
One particular session was so crowded that I was forced to squeeze in among dozens of others in the back of the room on the floor. It quickly grew so hot that I began to remove layers until I was sitting barefoot and in my camisole.
Women smiled knowingly, and later one kindly offered me her spot in the corner so that I could stretch my legs and cool off. Another woman eagerly took a vacated place beside me, whispering, “A wall is helpful thing,” and I grinned, appreciating the support behind my back in a way I had never considered before.
While the presentations continued, I noticed a backpack blocking the doorway beside me, and I began to worry:
Will people think it’s mine?
Did someone leave it behind?
Is there a bomb inside?
I turned to the woman who spoke of the wall to ask if it was hers. She grinned and said, “Sometimes our things grow so heavy that we want to abandon them.”
As I marveled at her poetic tongue, she raised her hand to make a comment, addressing the panel in a mellifluous voice: “We have to shift our thinking about women… Instead of seeing ourselves as victims, we must recognize ourselves as social and economic agents of change.”
The room applauded, and many approached my new companion for her business card; from which I discovered that she ran an NGO in India.
When the conference ended, I’m sure many were considering the focus of the panel: “Facilitating Human Rights from a Feminist Perspective,” while I mused about this: “What has grown so heavy in my life that it’s ready to be abandoned?”
There were similarly inspiring connections throughout the week with new friends from around the world, but none as engaging as the Indian woman at the wall, until my last morning in the city.
After packing up my things, I dashed out to a favorite cafe for one last bowl of chai and a soft-boiled egg. I was more than ready to return to the fresh air and earthy landscape of my country home, but the infinite pleasures of New York made it hard to let go.
When it was finally time to take my leave, I wistfully waved to the woman at the counter, who in broken English called out,
“I see you.”
I grinned, knowing what she meant to say, and thinking how what she actually said meant so much more.
Isn’t that what we all want?
To be seen?
Isn’t that why thousands of women from around the world convened at the UN?
As I rushed across the intersection among dozens of unfamiliar faces, I repeated those words in my mind; wishing that each person, no matter where she was, would be seen and heard and known.
Kelly Salasin, March 3, 2012
|Last Updated on Thursday, 08 March 2012 20:11|