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Murphy’s Law

What a day, what a day, what a day.

Yesterday was the Sixth Annual Celebration of Sudanese Scholars, and nearly everything that could go wrong did. Well, except this part:

The Class of 2010-2011

This part was awesome. We celebrated the graduation of 11 new associates, bachelors, and masters degree holders with ties to Louisville, 6 of whom were able to join us in person. Pictured above, from left to right, are Abraham Angol, Yol Goch Aciek, Christine Natiki Lokiru, Daniel Chakuoth, Abraham Deng Chol, and Mawut Mach. Our commencement speaker, Ngor Biar Deng, is another local Sudanese with a mind-blowing story, the short version of which is that he arrived in the US with a 9th grade education and managed to graduate from Louisville’s Speed Scientific School with a master’s degree in chemical engineering and a high enough GPA to garner tons of awards. He’s now a chemical process engineer; I don’t even know what that really means!

So that part, the commencement speech, the tributes to scholars, the recognition of a friend of mine for her service, the heart-felt invocation–that part was all awesome. The after party wasn’t too shabby either:

Just ask Simon. With traditional Sudanese food, lots of friends, and, above all else, cake, what else could you ask for?

The before and after bits, though? A totally different story. It began when I arrived an hour and a half before the ceremony, as the board had all agreed, and found my friend and colleague Paula Cohn sitting on the church porch with bags of food around her. We were locked out! There had been a communication error, and perhaps a bit of a disconnect between American and African senses of time. We got in 45 minutes later, with exactly 45 minutes before our program was due to begin.

And speaking of programs, we didn’t have any of those either! My friend Vickie and I miscommunicated. I thought she had them; she thought I had them; you get the drift. Thankfully, a kind church administrator let me in the office to run off copies (I had an original with me), and I just left an IOU letter on the desk.

Two snafus dealt with, and I figured the worst was over. Oddly, it calmed my nerves so that even though it was my first time running the show, I felt pretty serene. I figured it would be smooth sailing for the rest of the day.

Celebration-wise, it was. But it turns out that the rain that came down so heavily during the reception, rain that Yar declared was “God’s blessing us on this special day” was more than just a little rain. Over 100,000 Louisvillians lost power, including us. And some key traffic lights between Resurrection Episcopal Church and my house, including an interstate off-ramp, were out.  When I arrived home at 8:00 p.m. (I stayed late to clean the church hall), the last bits of sunlight were fading, Simon was ready to go to bed, and I was a bit hungry with no way to cook dinner.

My mom offered to put us up for the night, but we declined. The weather was mild, my dad’s generator-powered refrigerator saved us from having to throw away tons of food, and friends around the corner invited us over for a play-date this morning. Plus, in all honesty, I couldn’t help but feel silly getting hysterical about a power-outage on a mild summer day when I had just spent the day with folks who never had power until they came to the US.

Still, the next time God decides to bless Sudanese with rain, perhaps we could get a gentle soaking and leave off the high winds and downed power lines eh?


One Response to “Murphy’s Law”

  1. blg says:

    Great story.
    And, just a bit, welcome to my world!

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