A family whose four-year-old son was adopted from Ethiopia hosted a visit from me to Houston to speak in two schools and do a presentation about Ethiopia Reads. Dakota, Lanie’s best friend, is going to an international school in Indonesia–something that popped out of my real life–but I sometimes forget about the international schools right here in the U.S. It was a kick talking to kids from Saudia Arabia, Argentina, Ghana, Nigeria, India, Indonesia…so many places that I’ve forgotten them all. When I showed my picture of the camel that appears to be reading a sign taken in Kuwait on an author visit there, my little joke was lost in a flurry of kids buzzing with the excitement of wanting to tell me they could read the Arabic.
Yesterday, I had my own freaky connection buzz. After my presentation about Ethiopia Reads, a dad was getting books signed for his daughter, when he commented that the pictures of my dad looked familiar and that he had grown up in the same Addis Ababa neighborhood where I spent years. He and I tried a few tentative feelers about possible connections–what kind of car did my dad drive? what did the Ethiopians in the neighborhood call him?–but I wasn’t sure until he said, “Ah…and a dog. The family had a dog named Chino.” Chino! I couldn’t believe it. I hustled over to my computer and whipped out a picture of my brother with Chino in our house in Addis Ababa and then found a picture of my dad standing beside the family car. He pointed to where his house was–right beside ours.