My partner and I returned to our family on Sunday around 4:15. We rang the doorbell once, twice, three times and there was no response. We waited around for five minutes and were on the verge of leaving, but we saw the mother come downstairs with her children. The oldest child ran towards the gates and opened it for us and then we all went into the building together.
While upstairs, we asked the mother for the supplies we were working with last week and decided that this week we would work on word structure, such as explaining long and short a’s in words. Spelling out teeth, then breaking it apart by saying “Tuh” “EEEHHH” “THH” then putting it all together. We realized that this was really helping her develop her language, as well as understanding of the language.
After about an hour at the house, we had been working on parts of the body and spelling. Her children were running around and messing with the flash cards as we were trying to teach, so I pulled out pen and paper and encouraged the eldest child to draw. While drawing, I saw that she was looking at the letters. I picked up the dry erase board with letters on it, and started saying “A” “B” “C” and so on.. she started repeating them back to me! This was the first time I had actually communicated with the child, her voice was adorable and she did not have much of an influence of her parent’s language. The work I did revolved around the formation of the mouth to say “N” and “M” but she understood through watching me speak. This was an amazing experience, to be teaching a child how to speak English was awesome. I really felt the importance of the work that we are doing.
During this experience, we lost the dry erase marker that we had brought, and the child was looking for it. I asked where the marker was and we were all visibly confused, we went searching through the apartment for it and had a good time laughing watching her crawl under a rug trying to find it. I was glad to see that she is understanding my questions, if it’s not necessarily happening through semantics, but through body language.
We also found out that the mother was taking classes up at Howard four times a week and it showed that there was amazing progress.
My partner and I left the apartment smiling, each time we visit, we feel as though we’re making more and more progress in their lives and we both discuss ways to improve our visit next time. The ability to communicate with the child has allowed us to open up and explore different areas of education in the future.
That’s all I have for now.
This week’s visit was a little different than usual as Teressa and I did the cooking. Since she and I have now tried Nepalese food, we asked the family if they would like us to make them some American food. (They always call it “English” food, haha). We weren’t sure what to bring, since hamburgers and hot dogs are usually viewed as typical American food, but the oldest daughter does not eat pork. I myself don’t care for those foods, either.
After some brainstorming, Teressa ended up bringing ingredients to make homemade pizza, complete with many vegetables to add on top. She also brought potatoes to make mashed potatoes, since we knew that the family ate potatoes, but not in mashed form. I brought a pumpkin pie in the spirit of fall harvest and Halloween. The youngest children enjoyed the homemade pizza, the older children were slightly unsure, and the adults decided against trying it. Everyone seemed to like the mashed potatoes, though. Finally, everyone liked the pumpkin pie.
When I was trying to explain how to make pumpkin pie to one of the aunts, she asked me why she had seen pumpkins all over her neighbor’s porches at this time of year. I said that Halloween was approaching. When she asked what we were celebrating on Halloween, I found myself a little stumped. I attempted to explain that the “day of the dead” occurs on November 1st, so the night before is considered the night when all the “unrested spirits” are out, but I wasn’t sure how to explain the significance of pumpkins, costumes, or candy.
The best part of this visit was the excitement that the children seemed to have about Halloween. Since they have never been trick-or-treating, Teressa and I decided to make a plan to come on Halloween and take the children to a few of the neighbor’s houses for candy. We decided to go at 5:00, so it wouldn’t be dark when taking the children around. I think I may be just as excited as the kids are!
We spent Saturday and Sunday morning with our refugee family. On Saturday, we met them at their apartment at 10 am. Waiting there was their other cultural broker, who they call their brother. We will call him Steve. Steve volunteers with our family through a church group, he met them a few weeks after they arrived at O’Hare. He is a grad student and an painter who studies religous art. He also lives just a few blocks from our family.
We all at lunch together, this wonderful curry that the mother cooked, with this peanut rice she’s cooked for us a few times. This rice is so delicous, i will have to get the recipe from her. I brought our family the picture from last week, which they liked very much. In turn, the showed us older pictures from when their son was just an infant and their daughter was ver young. The father showed me pictures of his students when he was principal of the school and also said he was a lot “weaker” then, but i think he meant to say thinner. He then showed us music videos his students had made in Nepal. Then their neices came over. Sunday was going to be their one niece’s birthday party, she was turning 11. She asked us to come as well. Even if i wanted to, i dont think i could have said no.
Sunday we met at the neices birthday party, just about 5 blocks away from our family’s apartment. The whole family was there. The father has 3 brothers in Chicago, as well as his mother. All of them and their families where there, as well as another group from our class who was assigned to one of the brother’s family. There was cake, music, and lots of food! They made these cicular cookies for one of their Hindu holidays coming up next week. I took lots more family pictures for them and the mother asked me to print a couple for next weekend. It’s my pleasure. Their family is so diverse and happy. Even the father’s mother, who didn’t speak more than a few sentences of english, was so nice to us. The young girls were dressed up for the party and were wearing make up too. They were so pretty and happy. I was so happy to be invited to their family celebration.