I was packing my bag at the end of the day on Wednesday, the 7th of June, to go home when my phone rang. I picked the call expecting it to be from one of the parents of my pupils, only to realise that the call was from the Irish Embassy. I was informed by Stella, who put the call to me, that the Ambassador was in Jos and would like to visit our school! Of course, I was excited and quickly informed my assistant, Sr. Cecilia Michael. When the excitement died down, we started wondering how to welcome such an important personality. One thing that saved me unnecessary anxiety is my personal experience of Irish people in general. I know them to be simple and down-to-earth.
The Ambassador was expected to arrive in the school at half past twelve the next day. He said that he had read and heard so much about our late Sr. Bernadette O’Reilly and had decided to come and walk in her footsteps. I braced myself for an official encounter but when he, Mr. Peter Ryan arrived, he was so warm, so friendly that it felt as if I have known him for years.
He was so keen and interested in the children as he moved in and out of some of the classes. Although his time in the school was short, his presence radiated the whole school. The children, true to their nature, were so free with him that they surrounded him like a swam of bees. In their eagerness to touch him, there was a lot of pushing and shoving but in all of this, his kind heartedness and fatherly nature shone in the way he patiently patted each child and had a word for each one. His presence made our day!
What made his visit special is not only his position but also the quality of his presence. We were blessed to have him and we really appreciated his coming. He left us with a very important lesson, that is, when one is truly human, the position held is for the service of others – making a difference in their lives.
Queen of Peace School (Jos, Nigeria)