SCET Journal 2020/2021

Language Matters »

basically motivating me to not take that class, but I took it.” Roxanne agreed, “Yeah, people like painted AP En- glish and AP History as really hard mostly because of the word ‘AP.’ They are hard, but it’s possible. It’s not impossible to do.” Without any prompting, they discussed a particular text they described as diverse. Roxanne started with: “That book Their Eyes Were Watching God . That was very inclusive.” Andi picked up from there: “And the dialect, yes, it was new. It was new to me. I mean, I heard, like, I hear people talk like that, in like videos, but not actually, like there’s actually a book like that. I didn’t know that.” Roxanne continued, “I, I grew up in, like, um, kinda in a diverse, um, environment, and I did understand most of the book because, um, I picked up some of the dialect, like from my own friends, so that book, that was kind of like, ‘oh, that exists in a book, too.’” Andi and Roxanne both told stories of acquaintanc- es in school who became their close friends because of their honest curiosity about their languages and cultures. Andi says that when she met Emily that Emily “understood before she even asked me. She knew what the hijab [was] called, you were, before I even told her, and Emily is, she’s really curious, and she asks a lot of questions, and I feel like that’s what drew me closer to her and Roxanne.” Roxanne continued the story: “I tried to like re- search a bit more about the hijab ‘cause I know that’s a big part of Andi’s identity, so I wanted to do a little more research so I can be, so I, I don’t come across as just, just uneducated, so I wanted to be respectful.” Andi and Roxanne said they welcomed Emily’s questions, who would ask about her friends’ culture, religion, and language, “but she did it, like, from a good place,” Roxanne explained. They learned how to recognize intentions through tone of voice and expres- sions, and they enjoyed sharing their stories with those who “just wanna learn,” as Andi described it, who also explained that “it’s the way people ask; some of them, they ask to, like, make fun or make offensive state- ments and some people, they just, they honestly want to learn.” “From their tone of voice,” added Roxanne, “and I like it when people are honestly curious about me and my heritage

how they approach it.” She added that as she became more familiar with Emily, she learned she could trust Emily’s questions: “and like, she’s my friend, so I know she wouldn’t try to be insensitive on purpose.” What about a teacher asking about their cultures, religion, or language? “I am completely ok with that, to be honest, ‘cause as a teacher, you want, you want to learn, or you know about your students, especially the ones who come from different backgrounds than the like, the majority of the students, so I am completely ok with it,” said Andi. “I’m ok with it, too,” said Roxanne, “because that makes me feel like they are interested in me, they’re interested in learning more about, like, my background, um, being respectful, and because I know I’m not go- ing to be the only person with a different background they come across, so they can apply what they learn from me to others.” Look me in the eye, and don’t make assumptions about me Roxanne explained that just because her mother doesn’t speak much English doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to be included in a conversation, especially with Roxanne’s teachers. She says of her mom: “Even if she doesn’t speak the language, she likes for teachers to talk to her, like, look at her while I’m talking, too.” Instead of just holding a conversation with Roxanne, teachers should talk to her mom face-to-face because “she likes to be involved in the conversation; even though she can’t understand, she wants to feel like the teacher is also talking to her, too.” Andi has noticed how some of her classmates have developed a negative and incomplete understanding of Muslims, which she blames on mass media, and she says, “I just want people to not be afraid to experience other cultures, to travel to see it themselves, not they just watch a movie or something, ‘cause yeah, movies have a lot of biased views, so it’s not as accurate, so you have to go and see yourself. Don’t be afraid to experience new cultures and indulge in them, just like experience them yourself.” I appreciate it when teachers compassionately help me learn English Andi’s records with the school’s Multilanguage Learn- ers program indicate that when she arrived in the United States and enrolled in middle school here, she was clas-




Made with FlippingBook PDF to HTML5