As part of our Big Read we host a program called Chai & Chat on Wednesdays. It’s a way of having a relaxing book talk experience. On Fridays we host a multi-sensory activity called Tastes, Textures, and Thoughts where we can taste Pakistani foods, smell aromatic spices, and feel the unique textures of authentic salwaar kameez. We are reading I Am Malala.
Last Friday I had a group of young men come to the library and join our activity. We served a traditional rice pudding, Kheer, topped with pistachios, as well as other sweets. Savory would be served the following week. A student asked, “Mrs. Seymour do you have anymore chai tea?” Yes, of course; I actually have several varieties of tea stored in my office as I can’t seem to go two hours with out a cup. It’s Friday, not Wednesday so I hadn’t planned on serving tea until a second student chimed in, “Oh, I like chai tea. I tried it last week.” And a third exclaims, “I’ve never had tea.”
This is the point when my eyebrows raise involuntarily and an incredulous look permeates my face. “Seriously?” “No, Mrs. Seymour. I’ve never had a cup of tea.” Okay, we have to rectify this situation – immediately. Get the tea kettle from my office. Fill it with water. You, get the milk from the fridge in my office. Let’s get to work.
As we wait for the water to boil, we talk about Malala, history, and the Marines; one of the boys has enlisted and will be off to Parris Island this summer. He expressed a desire to read about Malala’s situation in Pakistan and the Taliban. I hope any new information and cultural experiences acquired will serve him well.
I leave the students with tea, milk, sugar, and a sense of amazement. For I have in front of me a group of young men, upperclassmen, Seniors, marine-in-waiting, sitting around a library table sipping tea. Shaking my head, I think, ‘you just can’t make this stuff up.’ I also think, if a group of students can graduate high school knowing how to read and in turn choose to read about things that interest them all with the comfort of a cup of tea, well then, life is good and I’ve done my job well.