At Tripoli airport at last on my way to NYC for Christmas with my kids. The process of acquiring the visa for getting out of Libya took nearly four months and it wasn’t until two days before my flight that all the paper work was in order. Other foreigners were not so lucky; one young man – newly wed to a girl in India – had to fork out 750 USD to get a rush (probably illegal) visa to visit her in the hospital where she is quite ill. Another guy is having to reschedule his flight to London hoping that he will have his visa in a couple of days.
I am giddy with a sense of relief at being able to get out of the confinement of the school compound. There have been moments when I believed once out, I would not return, but I am sure I will be back after my week’s respite. I wonder if this is a case of Stockholm syndrome. The commitment to those kids is overpowering, and my colleagues are the best bunch I have ever worked with. They are from all over – Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, Canada, the U.K., and a couple of us from the U.S. All have a good deal of experience teaching internationally, and they are well-grounded individuals. The intensity of working under the conditions of chronic mismanagement, daily outages, mysterious emergencies, and essential restrictions have bonded us rather tightly. Our Libyan counterparts are quite wonderful as well; the panache with which they cope with their country’s staggering growing pains is quite phenomenal.
So I will return from my R&R with little Statues of Liberty, I Love NY tee-shirts, Michael Jackson CDs, teacher planning and grading books, and as many kids’ books as will fit in my luggage as I promised. Plus all the hope I can muster.