- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 18, 2006

Gift of Africa

It’s noteworthy enough that during the past three years, Gift Maworere, a quiet yet proud boy from impoverished Zimbabwe, has been living and studying in America through host Episcopal High School in Alexandria, a college-prep boarding school founded in 1839.

As David A. Douglas, the school’s visual and applied arts instructor, puts it: being immersed in his new world, Gift was given a room, chores, a big floppy dog and an American family to live with — Mr. Douglas’ own — that quickly grew to love him.

Little did the instructor realize, however, that in time he and his family would similarly discover a new world — through Gift.

This week, both of those worlds — the one discovered by Gift, the other by Mr. Douglas when Gift took him home to Zimbabwe — went on artistic display in the campus’ Angie Newman Johnson Gallery, in an exhibit titled “The Africa Works.”

A renowned photographer fondly called “Dad” (his initials) by his many students, Mr. Douglas recalls that when Gift first arrived on campus in 2003 he shied away from discussing the grim realities of his homeland. With time, however, he began to open up about Zimbabwe’s devastating plight. Soon, Mr. Douglas felt the need to personally experience and connect with Gift’s other world.

What he read and heard about Zimbabwe, however, didn’t prepare the teacher for what he discovered.

“Zimbabwe is a country so financially and politically bankrupt you wonder how life continues,” reads a description of the gallery exhibit. “But life there flourishes despite obstacles. The genuine people he met and the beautiful places he traveled, including Gift’s family home, left David with an overwhelming feeling of hope.”

Each of Mr. Douglas’ works — large photographic images mounted directly to the walls — represent a connection between life in Zimbabwe and life in America, Gift’s two worlds. The exhibit runs through June 20.

As for Gift, he will receive his high school diploma at Episcopal’s June 3 commencement ceremony. And this fall, he has been awarded a full scholarship to attend West Virginia University, where he will play soccer.

“His world just keeps getting better and better,” a beaming Mr. Douglas noted yesterday.

When in Dearborn

That was former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright stopping by the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Mich., this week to meet with spiritual leader Imam Qazwini.

She was in the Detroit suburb to promote her new book, “The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God and World Affairs.” The two are said to have discussed everything from U.S. foreign policy to concerns of the Muslim community here at home, with Mr. Qazwini calling attention to polls showing increasing numbers of Americans harboring negative views of Islam.

Mrs. Albright responded that Americans need a better understanding of the world’s religions. And toward that goal, the leader presented her with a copy of the Koran.

The former secretary’s book, released this month, examines religious fundamentalism, including the role it may have played leading up to the invasion of Iraq, and the current nuclear standoff with Iran. A book summary says Mrs. Albright, a devout Catholic with Jewish roots, “looks critically at President Bush, an evangelical Christian who invokes God in the name of fighting ‘evil.’ ”

Oops, wrong room

That was Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Democrat, mistakenly strolling into this week’s fundraiser for Republican Senate candidate Michael S. Steele at the Monocle restaurant on Capitol Hill.

“This is a perfect example of Michael Steele not only reaching across party lines, but also reaching out to every single Maryland voter,” campaign spokesman Doug Heye told us yesterday.

Mr. Steele, Maryland’s lieutenant governor, is seeking a seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes.

Not big enough

Year that the signboard tallying the U.S. national debt is expected to run out of digits: 2007.

Harper’s Index, June 2006

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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