“Don’t learn the language! Rather discover a new world as it is known and shared by the people among whom you are living,” says Greg Thomson, author of “Growing Participator.”
And that’s just what I’m doing – I’m discovering a new world, learning Bangla as I go! Language learning (and new world discovery) is all about people. How can I show love in this culture and this community? As I interact with my “nurturer” (which is a fancy term for my language teacher), I learn how. She demonstrates how I should point with my chin; how I must use my right hand only to give and take; how I should eat, again with my right hand only. I watch how she serves food when I visit her. As we explore her community together, I find out that my home-country’s way of waving “hi” brings crowds of eager, obedient children to my side. Oops – Here, that hand motion means “come.” I find out how to greet and how to describe my family... “We are 2: one brother and one sister,” I learn to say.
In AOB Bangladesh, Language and Culture learning is the first job and the most important job a volunteer can accept. It’s a hard job- that’s true- but it’s a fun job nonetheless! As volunteers, students, and guests visit AOB’s projects, we learn to live in community. I’m enjoying these learning activities, the visual aids, the skits I enact, and the shared adventures we have.
Within my first month here, I’ve finished the “survival Bangla” program and can interact with gracious Bangladeshis of all ages. I certainly don’t want to stop now. We’ve only just begun!