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As I was sitting at Georgetown airport, waiting for my flight, I overheard a guy some distance away saying on the phone “This country is very corrupt …”. I couldn’t help looking up at him and thinking, “The poor guy! He didn’t know what he missed!” I didn’t know what he had experienced while here and what ‘lens’ he’s been using, but obviously he must have been using a different lens from the one I was using. So while he’s departing with memories of the big C for corruption, I’m departing with other, and to me more important, big Cs for care, compassion, companionship, community, capacities, competence, and connections.

Maybe we should invite that guy to join the Guyana team for a SALT visit some time!

This small incident reminded me of another piece of wisdom I came across while going around Georgetown the other day. Gaston and I were riding in a taxi when we stopped at a red light, allowing me to catch a quick glimpse of the inscription on the wall of a girls’ school, “We have seen the enemy, and it is us”. I had thought it was profound then: we could choose the lens with which we looked at things, and in doing so we could choose to be our own best friend or our own worst enemy. It seemed even more profound now as I sat reflecting on that guy and what he had proclaimed. It became clearer to me that we could indeed choose our lens, and if we

chose the negative lens we would not recognize what beauties and blessings existed around us that we missed seeing and appreciating, and in so doing we became our own worst enemy as we deprived ourselves of delighting in possibilities and potentials, of seeing the common humanity that binds and bonds us, and of recognizing what really made life worth living. Worse, in so doing, we’d probably turn others into enemies instead of friends, because we didn’t see the goodness in them.

See how Guyana continues to teach us everyday in its quiet, gentle way? For me, that’s the secret of Guyana!

Many thanks to all my Guyanese friends!


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Comment by Autry Haynes on February 21, 2010 at 2:24am
Yes Gaston "...Our Mind paints.." It adds to Jewel's foot print on ths sand. Usa and Gaston foot prints on the sand has moved and now "ENGRAVED ON STONES" ..climate change ( strong winds) cannot erase the positive effect you both have made on our minds and lens :-). Reflections continue to date. Continue the good work.
Comment by Gaston on February 20, 2010 at 7:30pm
Wonderful to read these responses from the heart of Africa, DR-Congo. Since I stepped out the plane, I consciously put on my other lens. I don't ignore the challenges and concerns, but starting from the strengths show me how to seriously move forward on these challenges with locally-appropriate ways.

And below reminds me of what a Buddhist teacher once said: 'Our mind is a painter and we can decide what painting we draw'.
Comment by Nazim Hussain on February 20, 2010 at 4:13am
Thank you Usa. A wonderful story. Were are truly blessed by your visit.
Comment by Usa Duongsaa on February 18, 2010 at 5:01pm
I really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments to this blog, especially those from Guyanese friends, from whom the love of the country comes through loud and clear. It’s so inspiring! Thank you all!

I’d like to share a bit of what may be titled, in parody of this blog’s title, ‘reflections in New York’. As you know, I flew from Georgetown to New York to transit for Los Angeles and Bangkok. Imagine my surprise when I learned that the man driving the hotel’s shuttle bus was originally from Georgetown! And imagine his surprise when he learned that I’d just spent 12 days in Georgetown! Both of us were so surprised we each asked in disbelief, “You mean Georgetown, Guyana?” What a small world! When I told him I was impressed with the city’s beautiful buildings and the warm, wonderful people I had met in the learning event, his face lit up and his eyes sparkled with pride. It was the pride of a man who left his native country with his parents at the age of twelve but went back to visit every year and was determined to keep the family home there. “I always think Guyana is a beautiful and wonderful country”, he said quietly. And I can’t agree with him more.

Although we only met briefly, I guess we kind of use a similar lens!

Comment by Allister Collins on February 18, 2010 at 4:20am
It is indeed inspiring Usa, to hear that you view Guyana throught lens of community, compassion, capacity and so on. I am a very proud Guyanese and I try to share the lens with which I view this magnificent paradise through. Like many other countries we do have our positives and negatives but we must focus on our positives more than highlighting our negatives all the time as if we have nothing to offer.
Comment by Jewel Corlette on February 16, 2010 at 3:52pm
USA reading your story has given me the opportunity to think on how privillage we are here in Guyana. If only we can take off those lens of negativity and see the beauty of what we have. Guyana is such a woderful place with wonderful people. I want you and Gaston to know that you have left footprints in the sands of time.
Comment by Jean-Louis Lamboray on February 15, 2010 at 9:08pm
Yes, everything depends on our lens...
See on our website more stories (a few, among many) of what happens to people when they change their lens.
The challenge for me is to realise on time when I am changing my lens, and start wearing my old glasses!
Comment by Autry Haynes on February 15, 2010 at 8:33pm
Really, enjoying this. Rituu story and Ashanta. Yes, staying in touch helps motivation. With this type of interaction, distance is nothing. Can feel the humaneness :-)
Comment by Ashanta Osborne-Moses on February 15, 2010 at 8:09pm
Dear Usa,
Thank you for sharing this. It is indeed sad to hear how dejected and jaded some Guyanese have become about this country. What once was a home in paradise for some people have become somewhere they can not bear to stay. Approximately 70% of the persons who were sitting around you in the waiting area at the airport, were either leaving permanently or on long-term missions for employment and I dare say would have agreed with him.
I am thankful that I have managed to stay connected and retained my love for my country....I believe it came with finding something I truly believe in and I am able to see the benefits.
Your reflections inspires me to share that love for Guyana with others who may have been hurt by any of the many challenges faced by our citizens.
Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on February 15, 2010 at 2:51pm
Thanks Khun Usa for this beautiful reinforcement. And Autry love your illustration with clean and muddy water. Would like to share a story which I have read many times but it stirs me every time I read it.

The Story of the Two Wolves
One day an old grandfather was talking to his grandson. He said, "There are two wolves fighting inside all of us - the wolf of fear and hate, and the wolf of love and peace." The grandson listened, then looked up at his grandfather and asked, "Which one will win?" The grandfather replied, "The one we feed."

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