Last fall, I got a long overdue chance to go back to Arusha, Tanzania, where I lived and taught English in the 1990s. It was a great trip, and shocking to see how much the place has changed, all of which I wrote about in a story called The Reunion for the Washington Post Magazine.
While I was there, I spent the first few days just walking around noticing all the things that were different and all the things that were the same. One day I was looking for a little restaurant some friends and I used to go to. I stopped at a bar I thought might have been the place. There were some young people standing around near the gate, so I asked them if this used to be the place.
“I don’t know,” one of them said. “How long ago was it?”
“Ha!” She laughed, ” I wasn’t even born yet.”
The whole trip was filled with moments like that, and I always had the feeling of being able to see the past and present and future converging at one point. Yet while many things had changed, others hadn’t, like the warmth and humor and openness that I remembered so well. You can read the story here, see some great photos by Sarah Elliot here, and listen to an interview I did for Michel Martin’s Tell Me More about it all here. If that’s not enough, you can even go back and read a story I did way back called Test Day, which is still oddly popular, and which serves as a nice bookend to this one.