For this visit, I brought a Rugrats/Wild Thornberry movie to show them. I was hoping the baby would become interested in it as well, since she is still shy of us. Also, to bribe the baby, I brought cookies and Jell-o, but it failed to entice her to accept us. She enjoyed eating the Jell-o but just not with us. Roahsani’s younger brother was at her house today as well. He has been in the U.S. for 4 years so he was able to speak more English. This was helpful when we had difficulty communicating. He was able to explain the plot of the Indian movie that we were watching.
For lunch, Roshani cooked a noodle dish using Barilla spaghetti. This was surprising considering she used a different variety of noodle last time which was more of the Asian variety. I had made spaghetti many times before but it never occurred to me to use pasta in Asian dishes, I always buy the proper type for the kind of dish I’m making. It seems that the family is adapting quite well in America. Perhaps one day, they can open a restaurant that has a fusion theme to it.
Also, the family expressed interest in visiting museums and zoos in Chicago. I told them that we can go once the weather gets warmer. Hopefully the weather will be more cooperative by then.
During this visit, Roshani showed us her family album. She pointed out her parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and cousins. She showed us pictures of her home in Bhutan. She told us stories of how her house was smaller than the apartment she’s living in now but the house had to accommodate more people though. She even told us a story of when an elephant comes to the village, it would destroy all of the houses since they were constructed from weak material such as bamboo and leafs. The villagers would use torches to scare the elephant away. Looking at the pictures of village life reminded me of my own village. I remember going to the stream to catch fish, crabs, and tadpoles. It felt like a trip down memory lane. I felt like I can relate to how her life was like in Bhutan. She compared her life in the village to her life in America. In the village, they had lots of free time so people would visit each other and talk to pass the time but in America, everyone is always busy doing things. There is no free time to talk and visit family. This observation was very accurate considering we have to call ahead before we drop by to visit family and friends. Roshani’s family just comes and goes through out the day. They would come in and sit for a few minutes and move on to another family home. This was very exciting since you never know who would come by or for what reason, every day was a surprise; unlike in America, where everything is scheduled.
During our last visit, we ended up watching another movie and playing a game of UNO. While I was watching the movie and talking to my family members, I started thinking about my time with my family. We talk a lot in class about befriending programs and how we can help the refugees adjust to living in the United States. My family seems to be adjusting well. We hardly ever see all of them at the same time, but the time i have spent with each member, I have been able to seem them I have seen how they are adjusting to America. The girls in school have definitely been interesting to talk with. They talk about what subjects they like, and what they don’t. I find it fascinating that the girls are given reading and writing homework and book reports that would be given to kids who have lived their entire lives in the U.S. I don’t really know how these girls are expected to finish these assignments when they are just learning English. I try to help them the best I can, but it is difficult to help them read and also to explain how to do a book report and what a theme is. I know it is important for these kids to learn these skills, but I can’t help but feel like there is a better way for these refugee children to learn these things.
Until next time,
I was able to go visit the D family once again this week and as usual had a great time doing so. This visit though seemed to highlight a communication between the D’s and Hannah and I. Both Hannah and I have food allergies and so we are often unable to eat the food that they give us. We try to explain why but I do not believe that the family understands why we cannot eat the food. It is not that we don’t want to eat it, I really do because it looks and smells delicious, but we would both get very ill. I think the family believes we do not like their food because they have started trying to give us more americanized food like waffles. So that is a problem that we are currently trying to work out. If we have trouble understanding each other again on our next visit, we might bring in a translator so that they do not get offended by our refusals to eat.
This visit we mainly focused on homework and this really demonstrated the language barrier between the family and us. S and O speak pretty good english but they have a lot of trouble reading it and comprehending what they are reading. Helping them read and trying to define words like “thorough” and the use of definite and indefinite articles can be a challenge because by the end everyone is frustrated. I have started to try and use personal examples and relating it to my self or to them to explain an idea such as “what is a thesis” and that really seems to work. So we will see what happens!
After not seeing our family for a week due to spring break, we were finally able to meet up with the family again. We were planning on taking a walk to the library and getting them a library card, but due to the weather and time we were not able to do that this week, but we are hoping to next week! The family welcomed us like always and served us tea with some pastries. The kids are getting more used to us and are not shy anymore when we come over. We spent time going through their mail, mostly which was junk, and advised them to keep a few pieces because I think we will need to show the library one for proof of residency. The mother Rita has a learning English book that she showed us on our first visit, so we attempted to spend time working on that. She seems like she is catching on quickly, and the majority of the answers in her book were right, but I am still wondering the extent of her understanding…is she really understanding what she is writing? Trying to teach proved to be a difficult task though with 2 small children running around who were dying to get our attention. They would hit each other and do silly things to try and get us to laugh at them, which would distract us and Rita from working. Other than that, the family seems to be doing pretty well. They have some family in the area who they are in contact with and have seen recently. The only thing that seems to be holding them back is the language barrier. Since they are young, hopefully they can learn quickly and get jobs. I am looking forward to seeing them next week and hoping the weather will cooperate with us!
After that first visit, Claire and I got together and talked about what we should do for our second visit. Claire told me she was going to bring some maps of Chicago, St. Louis (where she is from) and a world map. I thought this was a great idea, as it is another way we can make a connection with our family. But I wanted to do something else for them. I thought about what did I like as a kid growing up. I remember every year my mom would get me the newest Guinness world record book. And I loved it. It was always so colorful and filled with pictures and the craziest records you could ever think of. So I brought the newest one with us and Claire and I gave it to them as a gift. And they loved it! The book is great because it is a “world” record book, so there was a bunch of pages that dealt with their culture. And they loved the pictures. We literally spent probably like 2 hours going from page to page and them just pointing out pictures and asking
“what is going on” or “what is this called”, and then telling us what it is called in their language.
The family seemed immensely busy. Emily and I found Gadina resting on his day off from night shifts, Arkiband (the younger son) also resting after school, while Kyia and the wife out. Only on the first family visit did Emily and I find the entire family present. However, a couple hours later, Kyia and his mother arrived. The presence of the entire family was short lived, as Kyia went to attend a workshop at the ECAC. Gadina’s wife has found work as a cook at a local restaurant and often goes out with friends which accounts for her absence during our visits. I am happy to know that the family is keeping busy and occupying their time with higher ameliorating goals that will help them further adjust to the American lifestyle. At this point in the family’s stay, it is crucial that they become self-sufficient in income generating activities, education, ability to find various resources and learn to use networks of friends and acquaintances. I am pleased at the family’s progress thus far.
Our conversations with Gadina largely focused on religion. He proudly showed us a fat little bible written in Amharic while pointing out the innumerable religious icons decorating the flat. He noted an extreme point that lingered in my inner conscience for a little while that perhaps God is punishing mankind in regards to the numerous natural disasters we witnessed in recent years.
Gadina instigated questions which Emily and I didn’t have a solid answer to. In regards further to religion, why is Easter celebrated? Religion is an area of study that requires several lifetimes to learn, however, simple questions like Easter can easily be answered with the help of the Internet. Easter is celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ also known as Resurrection Sunday. Easter also marks the ending of lent. Another question challenged was explaining the concept of Daylight Savings Time. Emily and I didn’t quite agree on the exact meaning, but we did agree that it concerned the conservation of energy. Apparently, it was necessary to ration candles and if one retires the day an hour earlier during the summer months then an hour’s less of candlelight will be less consumed. The idea exploits the extra hour of daylight during summer for whatever activities man is capable of.
Our visits with the family has led to the education of not only the family but contributed also to the development of ourselves: Emily and I, as we begin questioning the things we do and understanding why these practices within our own society are endorsed.