Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps

3.18.2008

Fun with language, technical, and cross-cultural training

My teenage brother is now studying English, starting with the phrases of his choosing. (“Let’s go hang out in the fields” was an early favorite.) Listening to his accent gives me a whole new appreciation for H**, our Language and Cultural Facilitator. Every day, she listens to us butchering and abusing her language, and she keeps being gracious and encouraging. And funny.
My own language progress is continuing, but I keep setting higher bars than I’m reaching, so I keep feeling frustrated. (I *still* haven’t mastered that darned 3in. Try saying the letter A, with your jaw extended and tensed, and a hint of nasality and stress in your voice, and you’ll be close. But that’s still not quite it.)

The technical sessions are a bigger challenge for me, at least in part because I expect people to reject these community-building exercises as lame. As in fact Mma might have been doing when she refused to draw a map of her community, and as Sis-in-law might have been doing when she drew a map of only her garden. Sort of a conscientious objection to mapmaking. Or maybe H** is right that they just had no idea what to do, and didn’t want to admit it. But the kids were fabulous in their efforts to map our village. I may not have gotten the biggest house in CBT, but I totally got the best family. More accurately – I got the best family for me. Like thhe job, the house, or the spouse, it just has to be right for you, not perfect. And from the francophone Teen Brother to the eager beaver Middle Brother to the sunshiny Little Sis to the hug-a-bug Little Bro and the Baby, they’re just awesome. The adult women – Sis-in-Law and Mma – are taking longer to get to know, although tonight Mma said she loves me (as relayed by teen bro) and she chewed me out for not serving tea to my CBT group when se all came over to interrogate Sis-in-Law, Little Sis, and Teen Bro about their daily schedules. (One of those aforementioned community-building exercises.) According to Teen Bro, Mma said, “This house is your house. If people come to your house, you have to serve them tea. You have to. How could you have your friends here and not serve them tea???” Whoops. I guess that was my cross-cultural lesson of the day.
(Speaking of language lessons – H** translated her name for us. Turns out it means “The Right Path.” Well, I’d been looking for signs that I was following the right path… ;) There’s coincidence # 112 for you… :))

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment

Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps