To Brian and I’s delight, the grandfather made another appearance at the G’s apartment during our last visit and once again, practiced his English with great fervor. While Brian reviewed the days of the week with him, I assisted C with her grammar homework. Grammar was never my strong point in school and after being put in a position to explain it, I’ve realized even more how complicated and nonsensical it can be. The English language has so many irregular verb tenses and homonyms that I can’t even imagine how hard it must be to not only be bombarded constantly with a confusing new language, but also a whole new alphabet as well.
Among the many other guest appearances at the G’s apartment was a vivacious nine year-old named Puspa who was very eager to show me all of her dance moves. She played her favorite Nepali songs on youtube and tried to teach me many of the graceful arm movements but unfortunately my background in Irish dance, which entails no arm movement, was not very conducive to this. Even the grandfather showed me up by imitating all of the Nepali women on the computer screen while batting his eyelashes and singing in a high-pitched voice. He never ceases to crack Brian and I up. All of the dancing and singing prompted J to get out her saris so C and I could dress up and take pictures. After marveling at all of the beautifully colored and embellished saris from the windows of the Devon bus almost everyday, I was so excited to finally try one on and was pleased to see that Brian was also donned with a traditional hat for Nepali men. At the request of Puspa we ended up taking many, many photos and I’m excited to return next weekend with some prints for the G family.
Monday Elena, Sally and I headed over for our weekly visit to visit the Sanchez. When we got to their house no one answered so I thought it was the old “refugee running late because they have no sense of time” scenario. As we were leaving we walked by the park that is by their house and Mr. Sanchez called out to us. He and taken the kids to the park to play because they were tired of being in the house. So we talked with him outside-the day has lost its warmth and it was getting very chilly. He was in a good mood, I think because Mrs. Sanchez found a job! It seems like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He talked a lot about life in Cuba, more specially about cross dressers. Raul Castro (Fidel’s brother) has a daughter who is a lesbian therefore the cross dressers have a kind of political immunity. I thought this was so interesting, I would have never expected that from a communistic country. Also we talked about dogs and how vicious they are in Cuba, apparently. He told us stories of how people where torn apart and decapitated by pit bulls. This invigorating story was ended by delicious pasta…with eggs. YUM.
More of the same this week at the G’s—helping Grandpa with English, eating mounds of food (without butter soaked yogurt this time, happily), and watching Nepali music videos on YouTube. As always, however, each visit is unique. Special memories from this week include Katie being dressed in a traditional sari—quite a sight!—and taking pictures with Grandpa, who addressed me as “Teacher.” The arrival of a grocery store shopping cart, wheeled into the apartment and then abandoned, can be added to the list of inexplicable conundrums. It joins the ranks of the flavorless, rock hard nut we were given last week. Its purpose is unknown to us—do we simply suck on it, or are we supposed to attempt to chew on it, at the risk of breaking our teeth? Only time—or the aid of a Nepali dictionary—can tell. Yet again, we shared a peaceful, sun soaked afternoon, and continue to learn more about one another.
The weather was horrible, again. It was rainy, windy and cold even though it’s the middle of March. Although we couldn’t go outside with the girls we at least came prepared with The Little Mermaid and UNO to pass the time. Every week when we go it seems there’s a new piece of furniture that they’ve picked up from somewhere, luckily no new couches since I would probably have a panic attack thinking about the immense bedbug infestation theoretically (in my paranoid mind) hiding under the cushions. I’m so glad for having had the wonderful lecture on bedbugs, which makes me feel itchy whenever I so much as glance at a mattress.
We help them with their homework, but at times some of their homework requires them to read stories in English and I don’t know how well they really grasp it, since they are still learning English. One girl seems reluctant to ask for much help but I feel she needs it, for when we look at her work some of it is done wrong or she doesn’t really understand the directions. Yet when we ask her if she needs help she says she doesn’t. I don’t really know what to do without imposing myself when she says she doesn’t need help. I guess we still have a ways to go building trust between us. But then again, maybe shell learn better by doing it herself and making mistakes.
This was one of the busiest weeks of my life. I’m in a play called “The Dude Abides,” a musical reinterpretation of the film “The Big Lebowski,” and we had non-stop rehearsals from last Saturday through today in preparation of our opening night on March 31st. Because of this, I unfortunately could not join Erin in visiting the G’s on Sunday. Since they are busy during the week, it was impossible for me to reschedule. What I found most interesting about this was the fact that I honestly missed visiting them. Instead of spending time with S and K, I tried to look up jobs and possible pay-as-you-go cell phone plans whenever I was home. I’ve built a little database of Craigslist postings, so hopefully we’ll be able to call a few places next Sunday and see if we can get K a good position somewhere.
This was the first time Terry and I had visited since spring break and I was very excited to see our family and hear how they were doing. When Terry and I arrived Mr. Smith and Robert were both home. Mr. Smith was relaxing in front of the TV and Robert had recently returned home from school. Both reported that they were doing well. We discussed the weather and how beautiful the day before had been with highs in the upper 60’s. Springtime in Chicago was, thus, a not fictional myth after all. We also noticed that they had remembered to change their clocks for daylights savings time, with Mr. Smith retelling how he had looked at his cell phone realizing that the time on his phone had jumped an hour forward, which then reminded him to change the clocks. Oh, the greatness of modern technology! On the note of modern technology, Terry and I were offered our usual cup of joe, but instead of the traditional Ethiopian means of making coffee that our family has practiced in past visits, they instead used their shiny silver Cuisinart coffee maker that Terry and I had illustrated how to work last week at their request. Although the coffee still tasted delicious, I couldn’t help but feel disheartened that the customary coffee practice of heating the water over the stove in the special coffee container had fallen wayside to this stainless steel, electronic coffee maker. While I find these modern technologies both a convenience and informational tool (i.e. the cell phone automatically changing in response to daylight savings time, the TV which informs of the news in real time and space), I hope that items such a coffee maker do not give way to traditional practices and methods. Needless to say, this week, in one sense, has been a reflection on the larger global society we, the human race, find ourselves living in. With globalization traversing the planet, are we losing the traditions that made us unique or are we giving way to an inevitable spread of ideas and practices that actually help better one another lives with a blend of the old and new?
Alongside discussing the usual, I know we are becoming closer with our family as our discussions no longer consist of “safe topics” on the surface such as the weather, school, and work, but begin to include discussion on concepts such as religion and values. My family is Christian and scattered throughout their living room are some religious memento. With the Lenten season in full swing and Easter around the corner, the four of us talked about certain religious practices. I described how Catholics, typically, refrain from eating meat on Fridays and Mr. Smith explained how they viewed Jesus’ role in Lent and Easter- similar, if not identical, in how Catholics view Jesus in this respect. Mr. Smith also described how in Ethiopia Muslims and Christians live very peacefully with one another, with some Muslims at Christian celebrations even making the sign of the cross out of respect. Perhaps the world could mimic more closely the Ethiopian respect separate religions have for one another.
It is hard to believe that as of this upcoming Saturday my family will have lived in the U.S. for exactly three months. The time since we had first met with them has flown by and I am continually impressed by how much improvement the whole family is making. For example we learned this week, after seeing Mrs. Smith for the second time since we had started our visits, she has a job as a cook at an Ethiopian restaurant. The family’s English is also improving, making the time we spend with them great conversational practice. As our visit concluded, we discussed with the family the possibility of going on an outing next weekend, with the hope, of course, that the weather cooperates. Stayed tuned for details!
It had been a while since i last got to visit my family. When Shal and I walked in the kids were playing, and everyone just seemed to be having a lazy day. It was raining outside and Shal and I both looked like it was one of those days no one wants to get out of bed.
We got started on some homework, as usual, then read and played around. The Family just got a new cellphone, we exchanged numbers and the kids played with the phone and took pictures of us looking awful. After a while a few more neighbors rolled in and all the women in the room began to cook. I was a bit excited yet sacred, I can not handle spicy food for the life of me… I think nacho cheese is spicy and peperony makes my eyes cry. When they asked me if I wanted chili I politely declined and explained my fear of spicy food, to my surprise the food was spicy even without much “spice” or any at all as they assured me! haha
There was nothing i could do but eat and drink a lot of water with every bite, also one of the kids loved the food so much she sat next to me and we shared the plate, well more like she ate most of it. After i was done eating and my eyes hand finally stopped crying we played some more and had a small photo shoot session.
We tried telling them about the Zoo and said that if the weather was nicer for our next visit we could take them there…
Also, does anyone know of any easter events in the neighborhood or even at Loyola for kids? I think it would be fun to introduce them to the tradition and the kids would have a blast picking eggs and participating on different activities.
Today was an interesting day with the family. My partner and I got to their house and immidiately got bombarded with homework and English worksheets. After our homework time was done we sat around and played with the kids while the T.V in the room was on playing Friday the 13th– Black and White version. The little girl could not take her eyes off the screen… and i couldn’t figure out how to change the channel… The parents didnt seem to pay attention to what was on the screen… and granted it wasnt bad, I just didnt want to have nightmares, haha.
After playing and watching some bad Saturday afternoon programming, the kids began to play with my hair and completely made over my partner! all in all it was a great day and we just got to spend some time together and get make-overs for free, haha the best kind