Monday, December 29, 2008
Ihab (the son) is still totally shell-shocked. He said he'd be closing early tonight; I hope the flow of well-wishers slows enough so he can actually do it. Derek's going to go over there tomorrow to keep him company and help him out, since Ihab's trying to run the place alone, which isn't safe at the best of times, and certainly not a great idea when one is worried, nervous and unable to use one's right hand.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
This is to ask for your prayers, good wishes, bright thoughts and/or any healing energy you could send for a really nice person who is in the hospital right now.
Last night we heard a lot of police & ambulance sirens very close to the house. Derek went out to see what it was. When he got back, he told me that there had been an armed robbery at the convenience store just a couple of blocks away from us. The owner (73 years old, and one of the nicest people you could want to know) had been shot in the arm, and the bullet pierced his chest. Those of you who are in Columbus may already have heard the story on the news.
At least one of us (Derek and/or me) pops into the Clintonville Market more or less weekly. Mohamed (the owner) is always cheerful and friendly. When I go in, Mohamed & I always chat for a few minutes, and he never fails to ask about Derek. When Derek goes there, I can pretty well assume that he won’t be back for at least half an hour, because if the shop isn’t busy, the two of them will talk.
Derek happened to pop in the day Mohamed got his U.S. citizenship. Mohamed was so happy to have become a U.S. citizen; he showed Derek his citizenship certificate with such pride.
One day when I mentioned to Mohamed that the shop had run out of a certain type of incense I really liked, it was back on the shelf within a week, and it’s been there ever since.
Once when I was there, a large, tattooed, leather-clad biker-type was in line ahead of me. I had a moment of nervousness for the small and gentle Mohamed -- and found out I was totally wrong when the customer got to the counter and a grin lit up his face.
“Hey, Mohamed! How ya doin’, man?”
There’s always a collection box on the counter to help a pet rescue organization.
And some bastard shot him last evening.
I stopped there today to drop off a card for him. The store was closed, but I left our card along with a number of other notes and a bouquet of flowers people had left.
The largest note on the door -- probably from his son -- said that Mohamed’s condition was now listed as fair. It was previously critical, so I am taking comfort in that.
This kind of thing shouldn’t happen to anyone. Not anyone -- but somehow, especially not someone who brings cheer just with his smile and his hello. Someone who was so proud of obtaining his U.S. citizenship (and was shot, apparently, by someone who was born here). Someone who works so hard every day, even at the age of 73. Someone who inspires a neighborhood to drop off flowers, cards and notes at his shop.
I am finding it very hard not to wish that when the ... individual ... is caught, he would be turned over to the customers for the administration of justice. I imagine, though, that they’ll do it in the traditional fashion.
Thank you for listening. Thank you for caring.
The following are the top three sentences from the final compositions and final exams this term. There may be a few more as I do a little more marking on their papers before I return them to the students (*sigh* -- by mail, since I couldn’t possibly have gotten them all completely marked before the end of the term, even without having been sick. Oh, well. C’est la vie.)
#1 -- “The beaches in Hawaii are better than in San Francisco for their qualities and free pollution.”
(The pollution is FREE in Hawaii?? Wow!!)
#2 -- “The water is very cold and has deadly cuts in it.”
(I hate it when I injure myself on sharp shards of water.)
#3 -- “To be late for marriage is a good decision.”
(The topic of the composition had to do with marrying young vs. marrying later in life. However, I can think of a number of instances in which arriving too late for the ceremony might have been a good idea.)
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
A student came in saying that he had paid for a class last April, but was now getting collections letters saying that he hadn't paid. Our system showed that indeed he owed the money, and S. asked him to bring a bank statement proving that he'd paid.
He responded that he had paid in that office by cash (that office doesn't take cash), and that he would bring his bank statement to prove it.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
- 11:30 a.m. yesterday -- Instructor T's car was rear-ended (probably totaled). He'll be OK, but wouldn't be able to be in class.
- 12:00 p.m. yesterday -- Instructor B had a sudden death in her immediate family.
- 6:45 a.m. today -- Co-worker K's car was towed from its proper parking spot (again).
- 7:15 a.m. today -- Co-worker T's car broke down on the road, and she was stuck (and freezing) waiting for her husband.
- After I got in the office (7:45 a.m.), my phone rang. It was instructor M. I answered the phone with, "Hi. If this isn't good news, I don't want to hear it!"
I thought they said crises came in THREES!?!?
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
That brush dust from the floors.
But I look to November;
Whose winds beat at the doors.
April mints her timid leaves
And small, green buds unfold,
But my trees freely spend their wealth
In a frantic rush of gold.
And June's a dainty, flirting lass
With her roses and sweet song.
But you can't seduce November;
She just laughs and moves along.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Here is what we got in that short period of time:
PRO/ANTI TOPIC or CANDIDATE (# received)
PRO Full Democratic ticket (2)
Monday, November 3, 2008
The irony here is that the composition topic was effects of the Internet on education, which included the fact that a lot of students are using the Internet to cheat.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
"Juan vive con su hermano paso." (...step brother) [From Gilberto S.]
"Yo bebo Coca-Cola, refrescos y el gustar." (...and the like.)
"Zedilla carne López." (Zedilla meets López -- another homophone.)
Description of a dance step that uses "el dedo y el curar" (the toe and the heel -- yet another homophone)
"El sol fue culo las nubes." (..behind...) [From Jala P.]
"El profesor es querer decir." (The professor is mean.)
"Compro un poder de frijoles." (...can of beans.) [From Ana S.]
Here is my collection of the best (?) mistakes, previously kept on 3x5 cards, awaiting their day in the sun.
"Me gusta el estacionamiento porque es cerrar." [I like the parking because it is close.)
Local baseball team: "Columbus Tijeras de Podar" (Columbus Clippers) [From Daniel C.]
Regarding the need to wear warm clothes in winter: "porque puede dejar caer a bajos adolescentes a tiempos" (because it can drop to the low teens at times) [From Daniel C.]
"Deseo tener una familia grande con tres cabritos." (I want to have a large family with three kids.) [From Tim F.]
"El Salvador mentiras between Nicaragua and Honduras. (...lies...)
En Cuba la fiesta comunista gobierna el país."
"Mis tíos están construyendo una casa este caída." (...this fall)
"Los productos importantes de Argentina ... incluyen ... planchar." (...iron)
"La Ciudad de México es la mayúscula de México." (...capital...)
"Khadafi restos a grande." (Khadafi remains at large.) [From Jala P.]
"Fui a un raro." (I went to a bazaar [bizarre] -- in this case it's a homophone rather than a homonym.) [From Lisa W.]
More to come ...
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Sure, it sounds silly, but what are the alternatives? Winged it? Wang it? Is "to wing it" possibly a verb that doesn’t have a past-tense form?
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Sharon (in our registration office) found this yesterday while she was cleaning her desk. In case it's not immediately obvious (it probably wouldn't be immediately obvious even if I'd taken the picture with something better than my cellphone camera), it used to be a blue stress ball -- y'know, one of those small, softish objects that one is supposed to squeeze to relieve stress.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Sunday, September 7, 2008
The first problem comes when a student mistypes a word and the spellchecker pops in with a couple of possibilities. The student often will just pick one -- without looking to see what it really means, presumably thinking that the first one must be right. The second is that if the spellchecker doesn't find any errors, the student believes there aren't any and doesn't proofread the paper, forgetting (even when his teacher has talked about it ad nauseam) that the spellchecker won't help if one is using the wrong word spelled correctly.
These two situations lead to errors such as the following (all from real student papers):
"In the winter you should wear worm clothes." (Sounds kind of slimy and uncomfortable)
"She did it with her bear hands." (A serious need for a manicure if I ever heard one!)
"Columbus mare needs ... to reduce crime rate." (Yes, she was referring to His Honor the mayor.)
"The U.S. is the single supper power in the world today."
"The U.S. has become a save heaven for so many people from different part of the world."
I am going to need to come up with some exercises for students to proofread just for spelling. I think I'll start with the above sentences and work from there. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!
Saturday, August 30, 2008
That got us onto the subject of words that are their own opposites, such as "favor", which can mean to not use because of injury (i.e., a body part), or to prefer. Those aren't exactly opposites, but pretty close in the circumstance of, say, an injured football player.
The only other two we could come with right away were "inflammable" and "cleave". There may be others, but even just those three provide good examples of why English is such a challenging language.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
It's not too hot, not too humid. It's windows-open weather. (OK, with a fan going, but still, the windows are open, so the cats and I are happy.)
It's been a lovely day, made lovelier by the fact that I had a vacation day today and therefore didn't go to work -- or anyplace else!!
The initial plan (sigh) was that Mom and I were going to go see Uncle John in Pennsylvania (Mom's younger brother), who is not well. Unfortunately, Mom ended up not feeling well enough to make the trip. There was a lot of disappointment from all sides, but that does seem to be the hand we're dealt on occasion.
So yesterday, today & tomorrow are vacation days without a *major* plan to go with them. (With the system we have at work, once you've put in leave paperwork, it's pretty much a done deal. I probably *could* have pulled the paperwork back before it was fully processed, but I had a pile of things I needed/wanted to do around the house, so I went ahead with it -- and I'm SO glad I did!)
Yesterday I ran a number of errands. Today I decided I was going to spend the day at home. Home, home, home. I haven't had a full day at home for over a month. So I was staying home. So there.
All this is leading up to the fact that the next few posts will be the result of the accomplishment of one of the projects that I've been wanting/waiting to do for a terribly long time -- I cleaned out my main file cabinet and the drawers full of papers and articles and notes waiting to be organized, sorted, filed and/or recycled. (Quite a bit is ready for recycling this evening. That is part of tomorrow's projects ... or maybe Saturday's.)
Friday, August 22, 2008
Our little Butterscotch is now five years old, give or take.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Seen at a nursing home:
Oxygen in use.
No open flame.
And then below that, a Spanish translation –
Oxígeno en uso. (OK.)
No fumar. (OK.)
No abra llama. (Ummmmm … not OK.)
Even though the reason we were there was very grave, this last bit caused some smiles. Why?
Well, because “No abra llama” does NOT say “No open flame”. It says one of two things, and I must say prefer the second one:
1 – Do not open the flame.
2 – Do not open the llama.
The entire family complied with the sign while we were there. We didn’t open a single llama.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Since the stray momcat and kittens haven't been to the vet, we need to keep them separated from our cats to avoid the transmission of anything ... well, transmissible. This means they are in the bathroom in the basement. The kittens don't have a real problem with this -- although it does appear they are ready to go explore the world -- but clearly, Momcat is more than ready for a break from the 24/7 childcare duty. I think this picture says it all:
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Yesterday I went out to the thrift store that just opened two blocks from our house. What makes this store particularly interesting is that the building was formerly a brothel. (Everybody in the area had known it for years, but it was only recently shut down.)
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
When their Mom went to the outer office to fill out the forms, she left the little ones in my office with me.
So … I had these two little girls wandering around my office. I never caught the name of the older one, but the mother had called the younger one Barbara. The older one pointed at one of the photos of our cats and the various pictures and figurines in my office. This is what ensued.
Me: Yes, that’s a kitty.
Me: No, it’s mine.
[Child points at another picture. NOTE — As the child moves around my office, the littler one — Barbara — tags after her.]
Me: Yes, that’s a kitty.
Me: No, it’s mine.
[Child points at a figurine.]
Me: Yes, that’s a kitty.
Me: No, it’s mine.
[Child points at another picture.]
Me: Yes, that’s a dragon. Very good!
Me: No, it’s mine.
[And back to the kitties some more …]
Then the little girl noticed the calico cat a cousin sent me -- the cat hangs down over a shelf. He sits on my hutch and looks down over my desk.
Me: Yes, that’s a kitty.
Me: No, it’s mine.
[And here you could almost see her thinking.]
Child: Kitty mine, Barbara yours?
It was the first time in my life a small child had offered me her toddler sister in exchange for a stuffed cat (and that was clearly what she was doing!). I (barely) managed not to laugh (at the moment — I nearly laughed myself sick later!) and said: “No, Kitty mine, Barbara yours.”
Fortunately, before the girl came up with any more potential business transactions, her mother finished her paperwork and they left my office.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
Since starting the noncredit program, I hadn't had quite as much chance to see her until she taught for me this past fall at one of our community sites. It was grand to get to see her again and chat with her on a semi-regular basis. Life was an adventure, and she loved it. She was a joyous spirit who touched so many lives in so many wonderful ways.
And now she has left us.
In a tragic accident at their home, she and her husband passed away last week. We are shocked and sad -- and for all of us who knew her, there is now a little missing place in our hearts where her kindness and laughter always were.
Goodbye, Evelyn. We will miss you terribly.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
(And when I did finally get to Spain nearly 20 years later, I went to the Alhambra. It was a beautiful day in May. The smell of roses and oranges hung in the air. The sound of water was everywhere from fountains and channels cut into the handrails of the stone staircases. Kittens followed me around looking for just one more bite of the ham sandwich I’d shared with them. Then, without really knowing where I was, I turned a corner and there it was, with sunlight pouring down on it – the Court of the Lions. Just like in the picture so long ago. I stood there and burst into tears.)
Saturday, May 31, 2008
We started with one class of 12 Somali students. Last year we had over 1200 students -- and in the past two years, we've had students from 104 countries.
It's absolutely wonderful to see the world come through our doors this way!
It's a fascinating exercise. When you come down to it, you pretty much get bread, fruit, some kinds of tea and water. But the discussion is the fun part (although moderating that discussion can be a little challenging, as respect for all the cultures involved must be maintained at all times.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Prayer is one of the required elements of Islam. (http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761579171_2/islam.html).
There is a short window of time during which the evening prayer may be done. This time changes slightly each day, according to the length of the day, and according to the location. (See http://www.islamicity.com/PrayerTimes/ for a daily time calculator for any location worldwide.) Currently, the sunset prayer in Columbus should be performed at 8:10 p.m.
The length of time of the "window" during which a Muslim may pray appears to vary somewhat according to sect, although I haven't been able to clarify this completely. I have been told by one Muslim that there is a 45-minute window; another told me there is a 10-minute window. The prayer itself should take about 10 minutes.
The most reasonable accommodation, in my view, would be to provide a room where the Muslims could pray out of sight of others. This could be a meeting room or some other room not in use at the time. The employees would also need to have the opportunity to perform ritual washing (wudu) before prayer if that is needed. (http://www.geocities.com/rameezabid/wudu.htm) If washing is needed, that would require a few extra minutes.
However, this is only my opinion, based on experience and research. For legal requirements and any recent findings regarding accommodations for prayer in the workplace, I recommend that you contact your company's attorney.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
(And as for the other language speakers we see every day? We are tremendously fortunate to have staff members who can cover us in French, Somali, Arabic, Kiswahili, Spanish, Russian, Fulani and Wolof.)
At any rate, Manuel came back to my office with me, head down, apologizing and excusing himself the whole way.
He was apologizing for not explaining things clearly to the office staff, for taking my time, for not getting the door for me, for not knowing the right places to go, for being a bother. In short, it seemed the poor man was apologizing for being alive.
I explained to him that it’s our job and our pleasure to help people; that’s why we’re here. But his misery was pretty deep-seated, so I focused on the fistful of forms and letters he had with him. It was mostly government paperwork (which is occasionally a cause of misery for me, too).
The job he’d held for over 20 years in Southern California had been outsourced to China, and Manuel had been laid off, according to the letter from the California unemployment office. Manuel was to enter a training program so he could get the certification he needed for another position in the same field (or one closely related). It was clear that the job had been a source of great satisfaction to him; now, through no fault of his, it was gone.
That kind of training involved a one-year certificate program at our community college. Several pages of forms were dedicated to the requirements of such a plan of study, how to submit the forms correctly and - of course - the forms themselves.
I don’t know how such programs work in California; all I knew was that to enter the college here in Ohio, he’d need a better knowledge of English than my initial conversation with him suggested he possessed.
And what had brought him to Ohio? Family matters - which were the other source of his misery. Unfortunately, I could provide no help there, other than to refer him to a Spanish-speaking counseling service.
Just as well. We were going to have our hands full just getting him what he needed to take care of his educational needs. And that needed to be accomplished quickly because the information he showed me specified that he wouldn’t receive any unemployment benefits unless he entered a qualified, approved training program.
The first step was to get an assessment of his level of English. My first guess had ben pretty close to the mark. At best, it would be at least a year and a half before he could move beyond ESL and into the actual certificate program.
So the situation was this:
1) He couldn’t enter the training program because his level of English was too low.
2) The training vouchers don’t [normally] pay for noncredit courses, which is where he would have to begin (as his English was too low even for the credit ESL courses).
3) Without entering the training program, he wouldn’t receive any unemployment benefits, which meant he’d have no money on which to eat or to live indoors.
At this point, I have to preemptively respond ("prespond"?) to those people who would say, “Why didn’t he learn English a long time ago?”
The answer is so very simple: He didn’t need to! There was nothing in his life in California that required a knowledge of English. Even the letter from the California unemployment office was in English on one side of the page and in Spanish on the other.
But that’s another topic for another time. Right now we had to make the unworkable work, for Manuel and also for future cases like his because we knew that it would happen again.
I can’t claim all the credit for the way the pieces were finally put together; it was truly a group effort.
After some calls from a lovely woman in our Registration Office and another one in our Admissions Department, the unemployment office agreed to continue his benefits while he took noncredit English if we could arrange an intensive program of 15 hours a week over the next six months. I did that part.
Then, in order to increase Manuel’s familiarity with the English vocabulary of the field, Admissions contacted the head of the certificate program and got permission for him to sit in on the classes even before he would be able to take them.
When I ran into him a few months later, I was stunned - and very pleased - at the change in Manuel. He no longer looked down at the ground; he didn’t constantly apologize for being a bother (which he wasn’t in the first place, of course); he shook my hand with confidence and he spoke to me in English.
It truly does take a village.
She brought him in to the office and we went to the conference room to talk. He was a tall, gaunt, white-haired man who carried himself with great dignity and looked very somber.
Khadija translated as he told me how much he wanted to learn English for himself, for his family and as an example to the community, but he simply couldn’t afford the cost. Without English, he couldn’t get a job.
To be honest, I’d decided from the moment Khadija mentioned it to me that I’d do my best to say yes. She had never asked for anything like that before; this clearly was important to her.
But how to sell it to my boss? As soon as the gentleman mentioned “an example to the community,” I had the answer. He’d end up serving as a goodwill ambassador for our program by encouraging other paying students to come.
So I said yes. That needed no translation. Immediately his face broke into a smile as he clapped his hands and searched for some English words to tell me how much this meant to him.
“Thank you,” he said. “You are...you are...you are king of the world.”
Khadija gently corrected him. “Queen,” she said. “She’s a queen.”
“King,” he persisted. “King more than queen.”
Khadija leaned over (why, I don’t know) and in Somali explained the difference. “Queen,” he repeated nodding. “Queen. You are queen of the world."
Interpreters can tell each party what the other one is saying, but to have the words make sense requires a different kind of interpretation. And that’s where we come in.
We tailor the presentation details to the specific group to which we’re presenting, but overall I’ve found it’s very important to ensure the audience hears the answers to these two questions:
(1) What are Somalis like?
In the big ways, they are like everyone else. People are people. They love, they laugh, they cry. Some are wonderful, kind and gentle. Others are mean. People are people everywhere.
(2) But aren’t there some things that are true of all Somalis?
Let’s take the most common cultural stereotypes:
- All Somalis are Muslim.
No. It’s estimated that 98-99% are, however. And within the label of “Muslim” is a wide range of beliefs and behaviors, from extremely conservative to very liberal. As I said above, people are people. No cookie cutters were used to make the Somalis any more than any other people on Earth.
- All Somali women cover their heads.
No. Many do; some, particularly some of the younger ones here in the U.S., choose not to. It is largely a matter of religious feeling - and it is a choice. As it says in the Qur’an. “There is no compulsion in religion.”
- Somalis don’t smoke.
Actually tobacco use is a major problem, particularly among men.
- Somalis never drink alcohol.
Nope, not so. It is definitely not common but there are a few Somalis of my acquaintance who will occasionally indulge, and I find it hard to imagine I’ve met all of them, so there are likely a couple others out there somewhere.
- Somalis don’t eat pork.
Pork is one of the items forbidden in the Qur’an. I have no statistics, but in eight years of working with Somalis, I have met Somalis who smoked, some who drank, some who used other drugs, but I have yet to meet a Somali who would admit to having ever tasted pork.
Then, all Somalis avoid pork?
Pork is forbidden for Muslims and Jews, and there are some Somali Christians. I have no idea what their dietary habits are; I’ve never looked into that.
So...eating, drinking, behavior, personality, dressing -- these will vary. Is there one single thing that can be said to be true of all Somalis living in the world today?
Sure. All Somalis breathe.
A couple of standard rules I always follow: don’t carry anything that will weigh down the carry-on bag (no hardbacks); and avoid titles that might incite annoying people to strike up conversation. I have no objection at all to pleasant conversation with nice people; however, the books I specifically avoid reading on planes are those metaphysical or political ones that might make me a target for someone’s attempt to convert me.
Usually novels are fine. Until recently, academic and historical titles have been pretty safe, too. Maybe I’m worrying overmuch, but I picked up “The Invention of Somalia”, “Gender in Islam” and “Muslim Friends”...and put each one back down again on the shelf. It didn’t seem worth the risk.
Paranoid? Maybe. But one of my Somali co-workers - a gentle, peaceful person if there ever was one - is pulled aside for a “random” search every single time she flies. If it’s a coincidence, it’s a very interesting one. Someday I’ll do a survey of my friends and co-workers to see how many of them have been through the random searches. It will be interesting. But not today. I have a plane to catch.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Ibrahim never did show me a photo of his baby; however, he did make a special effort to bring in the little one herself for me to see and hold, which was infinitely more satisfying.
We’ve all seen it - some days your more extroverted students seem to run all over the quieter ones. What do you do to ensure that everyone has a chance to participate, to speak, to ask, to answer?
Here’s just one idea provided by an instructor I know. I’d be interested in knowing your ideas and opinions.
This instructor uses a rubber ball as a “talking stone.” When a student has the ball, it’s his turn to speak and no one else may. If you see that a quiet student seems interested in answering a question or participating in the discussion, he instructor throws the ball to that student to give him exclusive right to speak. Of course, when the instructor is holding the ball, then the instructor is the only one speaking.
“Everyone has access to the Internet.”
Not true! Not true!
Among our students - who represent a pretty diverse cross-section of ages, backgrounds and abilities - the use of computers and the Internet is definitely increasing, but it’s not universal yet. Part of this is related to level of literacy - literacy, mind you, not knowledge of English.
Another factor is the financial one. Not all people can afford a computer at home - and they may not have available transportation to go to a local library.
This is particularly concerning when one thinks about the number of resources that are available only online. Many organizations are moving away from printed information in order to save money and to disseminate information more widely. However, this well-intentioned attempt may, ironically, leave out those who don’t have computer access.
This includes online-only job applications. How many great potential employees miss out on great opportunities because they can’t see the job posting or fill out the application?
Sunday, March 23, 2008
I am a ghost.
I breathe. Blood goes through my veins.
I see. I hear. I speak — but still …
I am a ghost.
The land I walk now is not the land of my people —
my father’s father’s father’s home.
My clan and my family are scattered
to places I do not know.
So many of them are dead. More die every day.
Yet I am here —
Why do I still live?
Why me and not …
… Halimo, whose laughter made us all smile?
… Khadijo, who died in childbirth in a refugee camp?
… Abdulkadir, who was shot for defending his home?
I cook the food I loved back home, but the taste is not the same,
and I no longer recall just why.
I speak my language, but strange new words invade my speech
and come from my mouth unexpected.
I have met many people in this new place.
They help me. They hope I will feel “at home”.
This is a good place and they are kind people.
But it is not home.
I see the news each day.
I get the calls at night by cellphone.
Home keeps dying day by day.
Home is still the place I belonged, so long ago.
I want to belong somewhere.
I ache to belong again.
But I float like a fog, a plant with no roots —
on the bridge
between old dreams and new hopes.
-- Miss Tara
Nov. 18, 2007
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Somali women traditionally do not change their names when they get married.
Somalis do not have family surnames in the European sense of the word -- that is, a single family name that follows the male line(s) of the family down through generations. Instead, there is a system of naming that is more of a chain.
There are usually three names, and with each generation, the last of the three drops off and a new "first name" is given.
The best way to explain is through an example.
Let's take the name Abdi Ali Hassan.
Abdi is the individual's personal name -- his "first name", to use U.S. terminology.
Ali is his father's "first name" and Hassan is his grandfather's "first name".
If Abdi marries Fadumo Issak Hersi, her name will be unchanged. (Note: the children they have together will be considered to belong to Abdi's clan and tribe.)
In time, Abdi and Fadumo have children -- let's say a boy and a girl.
Traditionally, the first male child is named Mohamed, and this is still often the case. We'll call the girl Hawo.
So Mohamed and Hawo are the "first names".
Then the father's first name -- Abdi.
Then the grandfather's first name -- Ali.
So the children are Mohamed Abdi Ali and Hawo Abdi Ali.
And when little Mohamed grows up and has children? His daughter would be, for example, Khadijo Mohamed Abdi.
And so on.
This explains why a Somali woman's children don't have the same last name as she does. Family relationships (or lack thereof) shouldn't be assumed just because people have the same last name.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
I said I couldn't recall having heard it a lot myself, but the women who were asking me the question said, "Oh, we get clicked at a lot around here."
The way they described it was not exactly a clicking, but it was harsher and sharper than just "tsk-tsk-tsk".
So I asked around, and came up with a range of meaning, from "Oh, sh*t, why me??" (I'm quoting here) to "No no no no no no no. That is *not* going to happen."
And even though I didn't think I had heard it much, I caught myself doing it later that day when my computer misbehaved.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Abdikadir, Abdulkadir, Abdiqadir
Abdirahman, Abdurahman, Abdulrahman
Adaan, Adam, Adan
Mohamed, Maxamed, Mahamed, Mohammad, Mohamoud
Muse, Musse, Mussa
Fadumo, Faduma, Fatumo, Fatuma
Hawo, Hawa, Haawo, Haawa
Khadro, Khadra, Kadro, Kadra, Qadra
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I love it!
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
In fact, I was so good (and feeling a tad guilty about the other day) yesterday that when he said (as usual), "May I come in?" I had an easier than usual time NOT groaning and saying "If you must". I've never done that yet, but I occasionally am afraid it's only a matter of time.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
-- at any rate, this publisher -- let's just call it Longman, for simplicity's sake -- is the one we use most, and the rep is terrific. She's a delightful woman, and really-truly-honest-to-goodness knows her product line, the audience and the subject to be covered. That's all too rare these days, in textbooks or almost any other subject, and I really enjoy a product presentation from someone who has done her homework. This lady is that kind of person.
So she came today with an educational consultant (another very charming person) to show me some new materials. I figured the meeting would take half an hour -- maybe 45 minutes.
Nope -- two solid hours. Normally I would have been checking the clock and, if necessary, inventing a meeting that I had to attend. But no, I was in the middle of a demonstration that made me both excited and apprehensive.
Excited, because I thought the product was OUTSTANDING and I really want us to have it for our program.
Apprehensive, because I've seen similar (but inferior) products from other vendors, and the cost of those was way beyond outrageous.
But NO!! It's affordable!! And doable!! I AM SO TOTALLY GEEKED ABOUT THIS!!
Hmmmm ... I have a PhD and what did I just say? That I'm "totally geeked". Now, really, Miss Tara ... is that very dignified? Harrumph.
Dignified or not, it's certainly the truth. I am totally geeked -- and also thrilled, excited, inspired, and breathlessly anticipatory about the new Longman Interactive (TM) software.
The package is amazingly well put together -- and it's affordable. I can hardly wait to start showing it to my instructors next week!!
Check it out: longman.com/interactive
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
But not quite.
One of the Basic English students came in today and I must admit that I more or less hid and let my project specialist deal with him.
But his question was the same one he's asked me just about once a week for the past three months.
Today I found out that my project specialist and I aren't the only ones who've had to patiently give him the same answer to the same question on a weekly basis. It's also been happening in our registration office. Same student, same question, same answers.
The problem is that he doesn't like the answer.
You see, he wants to enter the College -- go into credit coursework -- but his test scores don't permit it. We're not the ones stopping him. The final tests we give in the highest level in our program (Basic English 5) are scored by the same people who score the (identical) tests given in Admissions.
Unfortunately, he just hasn't yet achieved the level of skill he needs to move forward. He says he's trying, and I think he is making an effort.
Part of the problem is that he's a little over 70 years old; it's harder to gain basic literacy skills at this age. On that level, he's done incredibly well to move as far as he has in the time since he began.
Unfortunately, the other part of the problem is his belief that he's more skilled than he is, and it's very hard to get him to understand otherwise.
I am normally a pretty patient woman, but there comes a point when I just want to say, "You're not listening to me!"
Apparently I need to work on lessons in patience.