Mar 2007 Newsletter: Yumi's Monthly Note
The youth center is located in the area where many immigrants live. Many of the children made their profile on the PangaeaNet that the listed language they spoke included Arabic. Everyone is at least bilingual, some are trilingual. English is not commonly used there, and in fact, no one speaks English except for the new TL and just one child. Using our body language, Picton, or other self-created picture letters, we tried our best to communicate with the children. At the beginning, things didn't work out well. After a while, though, I kind of stopped struggling to communicate desperately and instead, I started drawing with the children keeping myself silent, in the same space, breathing the same air with the children. One of the children who was about in the 3rd grade was peeping at me. He was rather short and had to stretch himself so hard at the briefing on the PangaeaNet. Pangaea now has a new menu to 'draw an original character Mr. A'. I drew my Mr. A with his clothes the same as the child who was peeping at me was wearing. When I finished with my work, he looked very surprised to see it, and then put on a BIG SMILE!! After that, he and I tried creating a piece of work together, which was truly a great fun.
By the way, the children fill out their height on their profile. The tape measure we had was only 150cm long. What we did was to raise the tape measure 30cm above the floor, as we would always do in Japan. For the children, however, the height is a big issue. Everyone goes to take the measurement and comes back shocked that their height is 30cm less! We tried to explain in English that the tape measure was 'not touching the floor but it's a little bit up in the air.' This didn't really make sense to the children and they looked all so shocked. We kept trying on explaining saying things like, 'plus 30cm!' pointing the floor.. What was funny to me was that the twin boys were tangling over 'which was was taller.' To me, they looked exactly the same...
We hold monthly meetings and report our activities in the beginning of each month chatting using the Language Grid. The FL in Vienna speaks German only and we cannot use English, which has been making it rather difficult for us to communicate with each other. The Language Grid, however, helped us communicate with her while we were there this time. I have finally come to use it handy.
I find the Language Grid program on the combination of Japanese/ Korean and English/German is very useful. Although, Japanese/German is not so smooth yet, it still works as we had not been able to communicate with the FL in Vienna without it. She was very pleased, also. The technology is amazing. It is truly the 'peace' engineering!