I tend to be pretty “thinky.” Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you that I can analyze a situation to the smallest detail until someone makes me stop. At the same time, I tend to overlook or even downplay the important emotional experience in the moment. I have friends who are very empathetic, who are always picking up on the emotions of the room. I’ve learned a lot from these friends about a blind spot of mine.
While this week I didn’t get a lot more done on Somali than usual, I had more fun. A less thinky week. I read aloud my dialogue and I turned to some news sites. I also found some new resources that got me excited. I want to experience fully the excitement, wonder, and discovery of this week, even though I may not speak great Somali compared to last week. I made new connections and enjoyed bursts of delight.
Helpful bilingual Somali news site
For the last few weeks, I’ve been taking advantage of the Somali news site, Warsoomaali.com, “Somali News,” that my Somali tutor turned me on to. It includes news stories from all over Somalia, from daily life to government decisions. The news comes from Somali sites, but the headlines are translated into English. It’s a great way to practice Somali, a shoe-horn to slip me smoothly into an article so I can get the most out of it.
In addition, I have great hopes for this site. News about Somalia in the US consists of two things: 1) Al-Shabab and 2) pirates. I will not speak any more about them here because you can Google “Somalia” and read everything you want about this narrow slice of Somali life and culture. Somalia for me—here in Mogadishu on the Mississippi—is a source of beautiful culture, language, literature, and complex society. Warsoomaali invites all of us into this world.
Local Somali education program
The Twin Cities continues to bring in Somali refugees. The Minneapolis school districts struggle to prepare them for success in school, since many do not speak English, and some are not literate even in their native language.
The NABAD program means “peace” in Somali, but also stands for “New-to-country accelerated bilingual academic development.” They work to teach English to Somali English learners. In part their mission states:
We see our students’ multilingual, multicultural identities as a tremendous asset, and we collaborate with students, families, and teachers to ensure that all students are supported in learning through and about both their native languages and English.
I’m excited to see that this organization works to teach English, while taking into consideration the native language of these kids. They encourage the kids’ multicultural, multilingual background. I would love to see more kids become bilingual in the schools, and the first step is to avoid eliminating the languages that the kids already know.
I contacted the director, and I hope to come observe the classes and their methods in keeping Somali alive among the youth of the community.
The director also mentioned that she may know Somali language educators in the community, so this will help me continue my search for a local Somali teacher.
A new dialogue
I’m inspired to write a new dialogue. At work I ran into a Somali janitor for the second time. I wanted to talk about something, but I couldn’t think of anything to say at the moment.
Now I can think about it. I want to talk with folks I bump into, where we can only trade a few pleasantries. For example, I ran into a Somali worker at the grocery store a few months ago. What can we talk about? What can I ask briefly to learn about him and his life?
Are you having fun with your language? What are you doing?
What’s the most fun you’ve had with your language?