As strange as it was to admit to myself, I was nervous. It had been a while since my last stint as a camp-counselor at RUAH Language School in Almaty, Kazakhstan. It takes a lot of patience and energy to shepherd thirty kids around, keeping them engaged and entertained. My biggest fear, however, was always dealing with the delinquents – those kids who just want to make things difficult for those in charge. I didn’t have time to ruminate – before I knew it the kids were trickling in.
It is easy to get caught up in the growth of carrots and turnips, of weeds, and of sheep – the lambs. Living on the farm, surrounded by the glory of life as it progresses, swelling into ripeness, it is easy to forget or to overlook analogous growth within our own species. Although my lodging is attached to a preschool, as a resident I usually keep my distance from the children and the teachers, busying myself with outdoor chores. Although I first considered myself blessed to have escaped the hyper screams of the preschool children, my first day counseling at Peace and Carrots proved that I had been wrong. Instead of the usual sapped and empty feeling that came with a day of counseling at RUAH, I found myself energized and in a good mood. It was as if stooping among the seedlings I had found a secret soil, the secret source of their growth.
For one, I was able to see the farm with fresh eyes. Instead of cringing at the dirty state of the chicken coop (which has since been cleaned), I marveled with the kids at the fact that hens would be so kind as to leave us little blue eggs. Instead of eying the weeds in the gardens and fields wearily, I rejoiced at the food that was growing up alongside them. Children, I noted, take such a simple pleasure in life, shielded, as they often are, by the adult world.