I looked around the circle – one face at a time

Bob Hatcher

March 29, 2011

          A college student went to a village in Kenya. She and another college student were assigned the task of participating in the building of a covered area that would seat everyone in the village.  The church group sponsoring them helped with the expenses of the community center.

The evening before the departure of the two U.S. college students was the first time the community gathered in their new center.  An important part of the agenda was to thank the two students from the United States.  Both of the students happened to be white.

Everyone was sitting in a large circle. One student was looking for Rebecca, the other college student, with whom she would return to the United States the next day. She looked around the circle – one face at a time – until she saw her friend.  It struck her immediately that she could have scanned the entire circle in just a second or so looking for the only other white person. She smiled!

She later reflected on what had happened realizing that each person had become an individual.  Each person in that village had become a unique individual. Each person had a name.  She had a relationship with her friend, Rebecca, and a relationship with each of the people in that village.  Rebecca had become one of the 51 people she knew at that meeting that final evening in Africa. Rebecca was not simply the only other white person.

Another example: a family had difficulty becoming pregnant.  They adopted a child and then, much to their surprise, they conceived a year or so later and soon they had two daughters.  One was an adopted girl from a family in Korea.  The second was their biological daughter, born several years later.

Fifteen years later they were sitting at the dining room table.  The two Caucasian parents, one Caucasian daughter, one Korean daughter AND A VISITOR FROM NEW YORK WHO HAD NEVER SEEN HIS FRIENDS’ CHILDREN.  He had known for years that they had a biological child and an adopted child from Korea. He had heard details of the two daughter’s interests for years.  He knew their names and was interested in them as individuals not as one adopted child and another biological daughter.  

You can imagine the surprise of parents and daughters when he asked the mother “Which of your daughters is your adopted child?

 Robert A. Hatcher MD, MPJ