Nzapa Bata Mo, Joseph Tambo!

Joseph Tambo at the Madison Maker Faire, Monona Terrace

When people asked Joseph Tambo,
How has your trip been, how do you like Appleton?
Joseph would shrug and say, "Fine."
which, to our American customs, 
conveys he wasn't much liking it at all. 

So I would jump in,
We're having a great time!
because we were,

it's just not
the Central African habit
to constantly evaluate
as they unfold.

Joseph at the Wriston Gallery, Lawrence University

Dear Andrew and Joanna,

How are you? 

I am fine. I had a nice trip, I arrived last Tuesday, May 24th. 

I resumed work yesterday, but I could not have access to my computer at work office (password issues). Now I have more than 300 administrative e-mails to read.

Joseph with Daniel Powers,
photographer for the Post-Crescent
My visit in Appleton and specially at your house is a blast for me; as it opened my eyes a bit to american culture. Your country is well organized with several 
culture. I learnt too much things in few days. I hope to share them to everyone if the case happened. 

You introduced me to your relatives and everybody you know, I really enjoyed that ! I made good friends there, I will keep everybody and everything we said in my mind and my heart.

I enjoyed the 602 club, the visit at renaissance high school, the visit to the mayor, the visit to the museum, the interview with the journalist, the concert of Rosanne CASH, the concerts and coffee table at Lawrence University, the bike ride and any other places that your friends, relatives you have taken me to visit.

Joseph with Ronald Wahl of Wahl Organbuilders,
at the workshop in Zion Temple
I also enjoyed Madison, the game of baseball at Milwaukee stadium.
I learnt a lot during that visit. Again, thank you for everything!!

I miss all of you !!! I hope we could visit each other one day.
Pass my greetings to everybody I met. 

Thank you.


Joseph with the Gannies and Isadore, Madison

On one of his last mornings at our house, Joseph asked Roseanna how she was doing.  Even after 3 weeks with Joseph as our guest, she was so overcome with shyness that she had trouble answering.  
Joseph asked, "Will you play your song today?" and he carefully hummed "This Land is Your Land" a melody Roseanna has been obsessively playing on the piano since even before Joseph arrived, mostly in the early mornings.  We all giggled and Roseanna blushed and Joseph said, "You think no one is listening?  I am listening.  Usually you play here, but yesterday, you played here," and he hummed the tune up high.  

After Joseph returned home, 
he wrote to me,
"Now my dream is realized."

We are so honored
and grateful
for the gift of your visit.

We all wish you the best
on realizing your next dream
of building a school.

And we all hope to see you again


Working Our Way Towards Marigold Wings

tad neuhaus, guitar
joanna dane, vocals

the light shining in my window
i see you floating above me flying high and wide
in your marigold wings
oh those long wings
flying marigold wings
flying so high
right to the far stretches of my distant lonely heart
i’ll find you
i swear i’ll find you
no matter where no matter what no matter
i what must i do
a what must i do
a what must i do

smile wide
and fly awhile
straight towards
my heart
22 blocks wide
some like me trying to get close to you
just beat my drum
call my line
take my hand
fly my kite
deep inside i believe
in the long history
of these old stories that keep
coming round
all you have to do is call me
i'll step right up i'll come running

yes i will yes i will to see you
oh it's getting so late,
it's getting late yeah, 
oh it's getting kind of late

it's time to go


Imagine City Park Thanks You!

Thank you everyone who participated in so many wonderful ways 
to make such a magical Imagine City Park!

Special thanks to:

Loren Dempster for the deep listening sunrise, 
Sarah Gilbert for leading poetry writing, 
Peter Bartman and Jeanine Knapp for compassionate discussions, 
Erin and Brian DeMuynck for chalk drawing, flyer design, and hanging out in the shade, 

Margaret Paek for the beautiful and exhilarating movement circles, 
Tad Neuhaus for coffee and for leading the noontime marching band, 

Anna Krueger for hooping, 
Kyle Lichtenberg for playing music and teaching us to juggle, 

Ami Hyde for crafting, 
John Baruth for siesta lullabies, 
Andrew Dane for donuts, sandwiches and podcasting, 

Gypsy Vered Meltzer and Marianne Levin for tree decorating, 

I Dewa Ketut Alit Adnyana, Sonja Downing, 
and the gamelan ensemble 
for bringing the orchestra to the park, 

Robin Cardell and the Oshkosh Rhythm Institute for filling the sunset with the rhythm of our hearts, 
Len Borruso for filming the whole day, 
and all the friends, neighborhoods, and Lawrence students who shared love with all.

photo by Andrew Dane

Cheers to The 602 Club, 
The Wisdom of Wombats, 
 Lawrence City Park Neighborhood Association,
and City of Appleton Parks and Rec.

Deepest appreciations and joy!


Where Have You Been So Far?

My husband and I drove into the dark lot of the 13th Street bus station in Milwaukee just over two weeks ago.  It was 10pm and we were feeling a little stressed about what we would do if Joseph Tambo didn't get off the bus.  The next one wasn't until midnight and Andrew had a lot of work to do and couldn't afford a sleepless night.  And what if he wasn't on that bus either?  What were the chances that all those connections went off without a hitch, from Joseph Tambo's apartment in Bangui, Central African Republic to this deserted parking lot in Milwaukee, Wisconsin?

Andrew asked me again how it was that I had neglected to get a flight number.

And what if someone had stolen Joseph Tambo's identity, a complete stranger pretending to be Joseph Tambo, my most attentive student twenty years ago when I was a Peace Corps teacher at the C.E.G, a French middle school in Carnot?

What then?

I convinced myself that was absurd.  We sat in the car in silence.  The bus arrived.  I jumped out and there was Joseph Tambo and though he was twelve when I last saw him, I knew this was the same student who sat in the front row of my class with an intense curiosity and interest.

We hugged and I said hello and introduced him to Andrew and while we drove back to Appleton, I told him about the highway and where we were and where we were going.  I asked him about Bangui and his job at the American Embassy, and about our connections to Scott McBride.  But mostly we sat in silence, a bit dumb struck at how amazing life can be.

Joseph Tambo at The 602 Club with our alderperson Gypsy Vered Meltzer and urban planner Andrew Dane

The second day he was here, he talked to the high school students in my character writing class and two days after that he spoke to all the students at Renaissance.  Joseph told them he always knew I was a simple person, and that at the end of my stay in Carnot, when I wrote my address on the blackboard, he had the vision, that he would one day visit me.

He started to teach himself English, and because he was always studying English while helping his brother at the market, someone told him there was a job for English speakers at the American Embassy and that he should apply.

Out of over 130 applicants, Joseph got the job.  Now, he supervises eight people, has attended trainings in Frankfurt and Johannesburg, and is up for another promotion that would take him to Washington D.C. for a training in September. When Joseph told the students that he didn't know if he would be able to handle the challenge of the promotion, I asked if they thought he would be able to do it, and they yelled, "Yes!"

One student asked what kind of food he eats in his country.  He told them about ngunza and ngozo, the national dish made from cassava leaves and root.  I asked him if he'd ever heard of McDonalds and when he said no, we all gasped.*

Joseph Tambo at the Lawrence University cafeteria

Joseph eats sunflower seeds, cranberries, rhubarb, kiwi, walnuts, maple syrup, pancakes, pretzals, pizza, hotdogs, apple pie all for the very first time.  "Everything," he says about the food, "is new for me." This morning was his first taste of cinnamon.  He learns the new words chill out, toast, so far, storm. He is surprised that instead of "oh my god" people say "oh my gosh."  And he puzzled late one night after he arrived over the strange question people keep asking, "Where have you been so far?"

Joseph is most impressed that people here are simple, that the university professors stand in the street chatting and playing ball with the neighbors.  "In my country, if you are a university professor, you think, 'I am king!'"

He is also impressed with how many activities people do. "It makes you feel alive."

Dr. Fonkem Achankeng from Cameroon, Joseph Tambo, and Dr. Alfred Kisubi from Uganda.
Upon meeting in the Indian Darbar parking lot, Alfred told Joseph, "You and I have something in common,
Bokassa and Idi Amin!" infamous evil dictators from Central African Republic and Uganda.

Joseph Tambo would like to have children someday, but he feels it is wrong to bring children into a world where they have no chance of getting a proper education.  Joseph gets most passionate talking about how education will be the salvation of his country, if only they can have a great leader. A foreign service officer introduced Joseph to a high ranking American official by saying the country would turn around in a week if Joseph Tambo and his two colleagues were in charge.

Joseph calls himself a simple man.  He does not want such an important job.  His goal is to build a house and start a school.

Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna and Joseph Tambo

Joseph would not buy a pair of shoes he found at the Fox Valley Thrift Shoppe because they smelled like smoke and he was afraid the dogs at the airport would smell drugs on his shoes and he doesn't want to get thrown in jail.  "My friend told me, that American prison, once you are in, you do not get out."

He saw his first movie with Len Borruso and David Gerard, Tom Hanks in Hologram for a King. Joseph's review, "I laughed a lot at this funny guy."

Civil War reenactor and Joseph Tambo at Horizons Elementary for Civil War reenactment day.
Since Joseph has been here, I've noticed pretty much continual reference to the Civil War.
Has it always been that way and I haven't paid attention?
Or are we turning our cultural eye back to what is again relevant to our own times?

We went to see Rosanne Cash and her band play with the Fox Valley Symphony at the Performing Arts Center.  Joseph whispered "fantastic!" at the start of their second song.  "Very professional," he told me afterwards, and noted that it is because they start so young, like the kids playing piano at the girls' recital that we attended earlier that day.

Joseph went to Luna Cafe with Tad Neuhaus and Ellen Watson to see our neighbor Mark Urness play jazz with Dane Richeson and Jose Encarnacion, and their guest Joe Locke.  We went to Matt Turner's IGLU students' vocal concert.  He saw Ali Sperry and Jamie Dick, our friends from Nashville and their friends, The Danberrys play together at The 602 Club.

But judging by how he filmed until he ran out of recording space on his phone, perhaps Joseph's favorite was the North High Freshman Band and Orchestra concert.

Sitting at Copper Rock coffee shop reading the Post Crescent, Joseph was shocked to learn that a teacher could be thrown in jail for many years for intent to meet with a student for sexual relations. He laughed and thumped the paper at a story of crows pecking away at people's houses.  And he thought Bernie Sanders saying he will "fight for every vote" was hilarious.

Johnnie B. took Joseph to Costco and Home Depot and Manderfield's and Goodwill.  Upon return, Joseph declared Johnny B. a "very wise man".

Patrick Hyde took Joseph to catholic mass.  He introduced Joseph to the priest.  Joseph said the priest pretended to have never heard of The 602 Club.  I said he probably wasn't pretending, most people don't know about The 602 Club.  But Joseph was sure he was.

Joseph on one of many bike rides in Appleton

*Looking at photos on his cell phone, I see a photo of Joseph standing in front of a McDonald's at a mall in Johannesburg.  Joseph says he thought I asked if he had ever eaten there, not if he had ever heard of it.

Joseph at JD's watching N.B.A. basketball and eating his first french fries.
When I asked for two sodas, the server gave us the extra large cups.
When I asked for smaller ones, she advised against it, since the extra large are one dollar and the small $1.30.
I explained this to Joseph.  He said that doesn't make any sense.  


Interview Suit

When I got home from the Peace Corps, my mom took me shopping for an interview suit.  She had called Sandy Carpenter to find out where her daughter Cindy shops, since she is my age, and very stylish.

I don't much like shopping, regardless, but pack on the fact that I was coming off two years in a world opposite of the shiny mall and was having trouble even going to the grocery store, it was, needless to say, a draining experience.  Here was my mom, gushing about how nice I looked in the fitted jacket and slacks, how she also wanted to buy me a skirt so that I had a few options, and a couple of nice blouses, and some sensible pumps.

I scowled at the mirror, letting her muse about hem lengths.  But I drew a firm line: No pantyhose!

I told her I wasn't ever going to wear any of it.  I had other plans for my future, though I didn't know what they were.

My mom still had hope.  She was working on fixing me up with that nice young man at the bank. And she insisted I would need an interview suit which sat in my closet, tags still on, for fifteen years until one brave day I got rid of it.