If one were to list their achievements, being the first Caucasian teacher in a Zulu school would be tough to beat. Karen Baldwin’s biographical, ‘Ruby’s World’, details this achievement. After surviving health scares and being an empty nester, she accepts an unpaid assignment to assist children with speaking English.
Written in journal format, we follow her journey. Struggles at customs, unknown languages, and climate changes greet her in Africa. Ruby, of the book’s title, plays hostess to Karen as she stays in Ruby’s home. Zinti Primary School, where she teaches, overflows with loving children. Third grade her is in stark contrast to Karen’s life in California. As she becomes more immersed in Zulu culture, it becomes more obvious that things aren’t as rosy as they appear. Ruby’s World is a complicated place, but one you’ll never forget.
Vivid descriptions of the Congo Basin & Sahara were lovely insights. Karen’s honesty about her trials & errors are what make the book so enjoyable. Her humor about the overabundance of crocodiles near a hotel & the influx of monkeys were hysterical. There are encounters will ill-tempered ostriches, too. Yet, she maintains deep emotions as she details her feelings toward gruesome customs & the children’s’ self-esteem. It was as if you could see tear drops on each page. Fabulous stories about gender biases & learning the ‘mother’ language are of great benefit as well. I believe it is a crucial read for those contemplating oversees volunteer work.
Having embarked alone on her humanitarian trip, she survived with very little assistance from anyone other than the few villagers she met. Quite an admirable act of bravery, really. Travelers would be well advised to put to use a great number of facts included here. Perhaps she’d have done a few things differently, but her story is great in print.
Kudos to her for having a heart for others & a 5 of 5 stars for ‘Ruby’s World’!