After our first mishap of trying to get into the apartment building it was heartwarming to find two of the younger children waiting for us in the lobby upon our arrival. We gathered from their panting that they had been looking for us out the window and ran down once we were in sight. The small gesture was exceedingly thoughtful.I have spent some time abroad and being faced with a language barrier is nothing new, but small considerations such as waiting for us at the door go a long way in helping to bridge those gaps.
We reconstructed our homework circle and miraculously I remembered enough from my high school math classes to be of some help with the eldest student’s assignment. I don’t know which one of us was more excited each time she completed a question correctly. Between my enthusiasm and her eagerness to learn it became like a game.
Sensing that he was missing out on some sort of excitement, the youngest boy promptly snuggled into my lap to see what was going on. Perhaps high school math isn’t as entertaining to him as it was to us so its no surprise that my cell phone became the center of attention, yet again. One of my best friends in Seattle later informed me that he received an entertaining voicemail that evening.
Somewhere in between “right angles and obtuse triangles” we were presented with coffee and cookies! The older daughters blushed with embarrassment and said they tried to tell their mother that coffee was a breakfast drink. Washing away their embarrassment my partner and I assured them that for college students, coffee is acceptable at any time of the day!
While coffee in and of itself is always more than enough (I live on coffee), my partner and I were showered with gifts of cookies, pictures, and even two bracelets. These small tokens of appreciation meant the world to me. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to get to know these kids. Each one is so bright and beautiful in their own way. I am inspired by their motivation and I cherish these interactions. However as comforting to them as it might be to have us there as “cultural brokers” and “homework helpers” we are learning equally as much from each of them.