Power outages are a frequent occurrence on the Atlantic Coast. They are unpredictable, and often when you need power the most. This past week alone, we experienced power outages every single day. Sometimes they are quick (30 mins) other times we are without electricity for hours on end. Yesterday we experienced our longest power outage yet – almost 20 hours!
This can be incredibly frustrating. Still stuck in our North American mindset, we are always rushing to get things done. We like to be tapped in– researching every workshop topic and sub-topic, organizing our thoughts in Google word docs, staying connected with what’s going on back home and around the world. But what I’m starting to realize, is that when the lights go out, we have an amazing opportunity to connect with the community and the people around us.
When the lights go out, we have the opportunity to put work aside and talk to people. When the power goes out at school, we get a chance to talk to Ms. Leslie and Ms. Elfrida and learn more about their lives and experiences. It was during our first evening blackout that Ms. Ingrid told us the history of the area and the creole language. Walking around the community that night we noticed just how bright the moon is here, and how many stars we can see when we look up. When the lights go out at night we get the opportunity to see florescent fish swimming in the lagoon; and alligator eyes in the distance.
The more time I spend here, the more I see how unnecessary it is to be tapped in all the time, to do all the research, to always know what’s going on. This past Friday we held a workshop for parents. As I mentioned, electricity was extremely hit or miss that week and we were scrambling to do our research, types our notes, and get everything ready. To our surprise, the power held out that morning and we were able to print our notes before the afternoon workshop. We felt as prepared as we could be. We had read the online articles, had our typed notes in hand and jumped right in. About 15 mins into the workshop all the research, notes, and information went out the window. Collectively we agreed that it was far more valuable to sit and talk to the parents, listen to their concerns, hopes and fears, than to spout off the information we had gathered. On our walk home, we talked about how we were worried about the power for nothing. We all stepped in to our rooms, flicked the light switch, and – surprise, surprise – the power was out.
While I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go completely off the electrical grid (it’s getting way too hot here without a fan), I’m starting to appreciate those no-power moments.
Written by: Joana