Raw English

Monday, February 7, 2011

I find so much beauty in language and the way that words can be put together. I love reading more for the writing than for the reading. Sure, I like the stories behind it, but I am more mesmorized by the way that words can be put together to describe what something feels like so accurately that you can really feel it while you're reading. Or when something is written so clearly that you think, "I get that." I don't know how to describe it without sounding all new-agey, but here it goes...when I read something that I think is profound or beautiful, it feels like the writer and I found a way to connect. If I could see the writer face to face, I would want to say, "I read your words, and I don't know anything about you, but I know; I got it. What you had to say, reached out to me." Its like making a personal connection to a stranger. Isnt' that what youtube and blogging and facebook and all these new ways of communication are? Reaching out to each other; trying to prove that we are connected in more ways than is visibly apparent. That's why we sit through a seven minute montage of soldiers coming home and surprising their families with big, rolling tears streaming down our face. We're happy for strangers. We get it.

Well, that's what language also does for me. And I think there is something particularly beautiful about language that is being learned. When I was sixteen, I traveled to Honduras with a group of dentists and doctors to offer free services to the people in small villages around the country. While in one of the villages, I met a little boy that changed the course of my life. All day long, we played together: I would point to a pencil and say, "Pencil." He would point to it, "Lapiz." I would point to my hair, "Hair." He would point to his hair, "Pelo." All day, we giggled about playing this game and trying to repeat each other. When I came back, a junior in high school, I knew what I wanted to do - I wanted to teach language. So, a Spanish degree in college, a semester abroad in Costa Rica, and a summer school stint with Teach for America later, I was teaching English as a Second Language in grades K-4 at PS27 in Brooklyn, NY.
Teaching little kids is hilarious, frustrating, exhilariting, and inspiring all in one. But teaching little kids who are learning a new language is a whole boat to itself. I was fascinated and charmed when my kids would come up with adorable English phrases that were very literal English to try to describe how they felt. Like my sweet Harvey who got a chair that was too high for his desk and said, "my legs are feeling squishy" when he wanted to say, "My legs are squeezed under this God forsaken table." Okay, maybe he didn't want to say exactly that, being that he was only a second grader, but you see my point. Its the same for trying to speak another language and attempting to slip on something that is very English into your new language. Imagine the confused faces I got while studying abroad in Costa Rica and I called my little host sister "pumpkin" in Spanish. Please try to picture me explaining to my host mom and siblings that "calabaza" is a term of endearment in English and that I wasn't totally confused about vegetables.

Anyway, new language learners have an uncanny ability to get to the heart of what they mean by stating it in the most literal way possible. Thus, finally brings me to my point (I'm clearly not a first time English language learner with how much fluff I just put into finally get to my point..geez): My parents have happily welcome a foreign exchange high school student into their home until June. She is sweet and adorable and Italian. They are all getting along famously and I cannot wait to meet her and introduce her to Greyson. However, even though I have not officially met my new "sister" yet, she has already inspired me with her enchanting use of Raw English.

My mom forwarded me her essay that she wrote to be accepted into the foreign exchange program and besides being amazed that she is such a well rounded kid; one thing she wrote in particular struck me as lovely, perfect, raw English.

She wrote (in reference to her parents),
"They grown me up with the idea that the most important things in a person's life are freedom, independence, and adaptability. They hope this experience will serve me to mature and soften my flaws."

soften my flaws

Such a perfect way to say what it means.

I can't wait to meet you Franchesa<3 Welcome to our family.

No Comments Yet, Leave Yours!