And now we’re getting somewhere

I am tired and annoyed for reasons that are not especially interesting, but today was a much better day at work than yesterday was, pretty much across the board. Fatima and I worked on numbers; she was already able to tell me one through about four or five, and so we worked on writing and identifying zero through nine, both as number symbols and the individual words. I have a similar process in mind tomorrow for letters, and I’ve bullied administration into letting a bunch of us out of a pre-scheduled meeting tomorrow morning so that we can all sit in my room and put our heads together to see what we can do. Apparently there are some funds available both through the program that brought her family into the country and through our own bilingual department, so we will see what we are able to get ahold of.

What we really need is to be able to secure the assistance of an interpreter. Even if it was only for an hour a day or something, some way these kids can actually talk to us would be tremendously helpful, and I’ve still had no luck in finding anything digital that can speak Pashto. We need a live person. I just don’t know yet how to find one. That’s the next big mission.

Oh, and I found something else out today that is gonna be super fun: I don’t know if this is official or not, but the word is there may be thirty more families landing in the district soon. Fatima has seven brothers and sisters, so if these thirty families are similar in size that’s quite a lot of new students to figure out. Speaking as an American, this is wonderful; speaking as someone who needs to teach these kids math, I’m shitting myself in terror.

(Mental note: try to figure out a way to ask her about her family. Brothers, sisters, that sort of thing. Second mental note: I know Islam really doesn’t like representational art; make sure asking her to draw her family or something doesn’t violate a cultural taboo. Third mental note: learn everything about everything.)

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Luther M. Siler

The author of SKYLIGHTS, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES and several other books.

4 thoughts on “And now we’re getting somewhere

  1. I expect you have thought of this, but there are online language learning platforms where people can pay a native speaker to talk with them at fairly reasonable hourly rates. Maybe your school or district would pay for a few hours? Here is one, for example: https://www.italki.com/teachers/pashtu

    PS Still reading after all these years…

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