Charlotte’s Epiphany

Something happened a few weeks ago that I’d planned to blog about, but it slipped my mind. So now I’m playing catch up.

Charlotte confided to me that she was not happy about going back to Germany and that she wanted to stay at Inventure Academy. Now anyone who followed the early posts of this blog might recall that she was the reticent one about coming to India in the first place and was the one who had the roughest initial adjustment the first few days. Now obviously her friend Freya is a factor. Freya is Charlotte’s first really good, close friend. Charlotte is outgoing and charismatic (two traits that certainly did not inherit from her father) and has lots of friends, but she’ll be the first to tell you that they are acquaintances and not real friends the way Freya is.

But there was something else…

There was a girl in her class back in Germany who had gone to kindergarten and first grade with Charlotte. This girl was from a German family, but was adopted as an orphaned toddler from Columbia.

This girl had brown skin.

She was socially ostracized and mistreated by her peers. Charlotte told me that the problem that the other kids had with her was the color of her skin, plain and simple. First graders have not yet learned the art of disguising bigotry with pretexts and justifications. Charlotte told me that they said to her that this is what the problem with her was. Meanwhile, her experience here was completely different. Her school is about 10% expat and light skinned kids are certainly in the minority here, yet she never experienced a single feeling of “otherness”. She made comparisons of the moral fiber of the kids at Inventure and back at Schloßberschule in Rotenberg and it was very much not in favor of Rotenberg. At the tender age of eight, she has already formed her own opinions of provincial bigotry and the people who practice it.

I wonder how much of it is India and how much of it is the international school environment. I know it can’t entirely be the former as the girl who comes for drinking water once thought our driver was Muslim because she did not recognize his name as a Hindu one. It was only after he told her that he was Christian that she became friendly with him and told him that she would not talk to him if he was Muslim.

Nevertheless, Charlotte has grown a lot in this year. Her father is proud of her. I did not learn those lessons until much later.


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