This past week Nick and I got the pleasure to learn about our family’s “past life.” They shared with us details about life in Nepal, where they lived in the refugee camp, and life before that in Bhutan. We looked at photos from two albums they got in Darjeeling, India, which looked gorgeous. There were tons of photos from Bishnu and Mira’s wedding (which was just last year) that gave us a glimpse of the camp and the entirety of both of their extended families. In addition, we saw photos of Bishnu as a bus driver, playing sax, hanging out with their German Shepard, in a mall, in the mountains, I hardly recognized him in a different context. And Mira, in the traditional wedding attire, looked completely different from the Mira I know with her ponytail and loungewear. Here is a really broad statement: There is so much to learn about someone. Their families, their interests, their childhood, their mannerisms, their motivations, their viewpoints. Somewhere between nature and nurture do these things develop to make someone who they are. Learning about others never gets boring to me, not to mention refugees and their especially interesting background. So I enjoyed it.
The visits with the Darjee family are going well! We seem to be making a much better connection with the family. On 3/24 we brought some family photos to share with the family, hoping to get some more of their family tree outlined. They didn’t seem too interested in the photos, but Momma D looked through them all. She and I have been working on her ELL homework for the last couple visits. She seems to be gaining confidence in understanding some words. I think her vision is poorer than her prescription is and I am hoping to get some large print ELL worksheets for her. The two kids seem to be doing better with their comprehension as well which is great to see. On Sunday the 27th we took S and his two nephews to the Lincoln Park Zoo for the afternoon. It was a long bus ride but we finally made it and the kids seemed to enjoy the time we spent there. They really wanted to see the giraffes and they really like the sea lions. It was fun to take them there. I think it will be another trip to do with more family members when the weather warms up. Today, we spent time with the family in their home. We helped the daughter with a reflection essay she had to write about the standardized tests she took. I helped the mom with her ELL homework again. She seemed to be making progress with recognizing words, but I don’t really know if she is able to really read. I think we are beginning to bond with the mom, which is really nice. I hope we can take her on an outing soon!
Yesterday afternoon, Katie and I finally found out that neither N or J are working, a question we’ve been pondering for awhile. Both are looking for a job—J, specifically, as a housekeeper. We showed her how to look for jobs using Craigslist, and wrote down basic directions, so that she and her husband can continue to search on their own. What was both surprising and disappointing is that many of the jobs, even very low paying ones, require a GED, something J does not have. After we explained what the GED is, J and her brother, R, asked if after taking it employers will “have” to give you a job? Unfortunately, we had to tell them, there was no guarantee.
We also attempted to explain the importance of making a resume. As if writing it in English won’t be enough of a challenge, however, the fact that J has very little job experience or education may also be a hindrance. It became clear how tricky the job-search process can be, and how many requirements, even for jobs most consider low skill, employees must fill—some of which are simply infeasible, such as having years of experience. At many times, J looked very overwhelmed, and I couldn’t blame her, considering how many obstacles she currently faces. Hopefully things look more positive—and less intimidating—for her in the weeks to come.
Claire and I were planning on taking the Oli’s to the Lincoln Park Zoo. It was a beautiful day out, and we were excited to finally be able to show off the beautiful city of Chicago! Except when we finally arrived at the Oli’s, we found out that the youngest son, Bibek, had some kind of cold and was not going to be able to go out. And of course, they didn’t have any homework that we could help with so we were not entirely sure what to do. The mother immediately starting cooking up an entire meal for us (btw, the Oli family may not have a lot of things or money, but they will make you a feast for every meal; its just the way their culture works). I was sitting there and reminiscing about how much they enjoyed showing us those hundreds of pictures during our first visit. And I had a brilliant idea. I have a few camera apps on my iphone, so I started just messing around with taking pictures with the two sons. One of the apps, for example, makes your face look fat. They literally thought it was the funniest thing in the whole world, they couldn’t get enough of it. I think we literally spent almost 2 hours just playing with the apps and some games on my phone. It’s interesting because they clearly have never played with a piece of gaming technology as advanced as the Iphone, and were clearly struggling with their first few tries. But they are extremely intelligent kids and after about 10 minutes they were using the same strategies that I usually use and even beat a few of my high scores. It was really funny to see that happen.