Jesus is the reason for the season.

You know how people say that “Jesus was a Jew” (being “funny”). And then some people reply with “But only on his mother’s side”? well this one time I made a joke about how Jesus was a bastard; trying to be witty- pithy if you will. Cuz you know, conceived out of wed-lock and all that. Anyway, turns out is was not funny.

So during this Christmas Season please do yourself a favor and remember: Jesus was not a bastard….

Merry Christmas

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Repeat after Me

Sitting in on an adult ELT class is a lot like listening to a game of Mad-Gab. You can hear the words people are saying, but all they are saying is different sounds. When they finally understand, the words take their true form and are no longer a garble of nothings.

To date, sitting in on a class may be one of my favorite internship experiences. Not only do I have great admiration of the teachers’ patience, but the student’s wish to learn English is inspirational. The class I sat in had nine students: three Somalian women, two Nepali women, two Nepali men, an Iraqi man and an Iraqi women.

The Somalian women are in their own clique; separating themselves from the other students. Always whispering among themselves and helping supply the correct answer. The Nepali women are shy, but eager to take part in class. They often had the answer put together first, but spoke so quietly the teacher never gave them credit. The Nepali men sat on the other side of the room and rarely spoke unless the teacher, upon recalling their presence, directly asked them to take part. The Iraqi couple sat off to the side, with the women learning English fairly well and the man jumping in, forgetting how words sound moments after he heard them, sounding out words he didn’t know– truly desirous of knowledge.

Glances at their papers revealed how new English was to them; their handwriting was infantile, easily comparable to a first or second grader. Their written languages are much different from English (or the other Romantic languages). Yet, even though writing is new and difficult, the students diligently wrote down every word the teacher taught them.

The most interesting aspect of this class was the age of the students. The youngest in the room was 40 and the oldest was 88– with a median close to 60. I think, as a society, we often have this notion that first generation immigrants do not want to learn English or are too fixed in their ways to bother changing. This class impressed me and blew that idea out of water. The students were not young people, but older– all of them at an age where language acquisition nearly impossible. Still, there they were: four hours, four days a week, they come to English class to learn English and about the United States. They are eager to learn about their new home.

The class really made me pause and wonder if I would be the same in a new country. Would I want to learn more than the survival language skills? Would I have the patience or ability to learn any more than that? What would it be like not to have the language skills? At 88, would I eagerly await instruction? Would I willingly make mistakes and put myself out there?

Would you?

Internship

I am an intern. This means a lot of drone work and a lot of observation. I am not good with busy work nor observing to learn. I am a hands-on, do something real kind of gal. So, needless to say, there are days at my internship that I want to pull my hair out.

Case in point: last Friday, we had our “Zoolights” trip. Basically, the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago lights up the place every Christmas/Holiday season. They provide ice carving in the park and different craft tables set up around the zoo. It is a fun free night to spend with the family, or, in my case, with our clients. We took our clients around the zoo and after an hour or so we ended the night with hot chocolate, water, and cookies. Somehow, I ended up having to fill the water pitcher. Unfortunately the only place to fill the pitcher of water was in the bathroom downstairs. And the pitcher didn’t fit in the sink.

So the first time I fangled the pitcher into the sink, wedging it at the best angle possible, and filled it up as much as possible. The second time I grabbed one of those 8 oz foam cups and filled the pitcher up cup by cup. It was terrible. And the whole timeĀ I missed out on spending time with our clients. In hindsight, it was really funny. Very much a task an intern would have to do, and at some point everyone has to do the lame job.

 

I just can’t wait until the day I supervise Interns…

Final Weeks of School

The last few weeks of classes are always hectic and stressful. Suddenly, all the assignments are due, and you realize you haven’t done a gosh-darn thing. So what do you do? You rush to the library and watch Hulu. You sequester yourself in your apartment and take a two-hour nap. Or you get a group together and play a crazy game of snow-football.

Now, it is twelve hours before your papers are due and you have nothing written. What do you do? go to sleep at a reasonable hour, the paper fairies will come… I promise.