Sunday, November 30, 2008

One week anniversary as volunteer

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I’ve been here one week now and I think I’m getting a grip.

FACT: Nobody speaks English here… heck, nobody SPEAKS here! Well, that’s an “exaggeration”…. One girl –Kavita--speaks Nepalese and a bit of English, but she’s only here during the “work” day – 10 am to 4 pm. Another girl --Sunita --speaks Nepalese and sign language and a few words of English; she lives here. If I want to communicate with the mosaic artists, I have to say it in English to Kavita…. who translates into Nepalese to Sunita… who translates it into sign language to the artists…and then back and forth through our daisy-chain, losing how much information with each translation. Talk about a LENGTHY process!! Doesn’t really work… IF what I said makes it through the process, I’m nodding off by then!

SOLUTION: Learn NEPALESE sign language and teach Sunita how to speak English

For the first several days, everybody’s faces merged together into one swirling mass of “my Nepalese housemates that don’t talk but chatter away with flying hands.” ALL absolutely friendly and smiling (as I sure I was…. Nod and smile in total incomprehension!) On day three– in desperation! -- I had them write their names on a list…. I took photos that corresponded with that list and as I took the photos, I had them show me their “sign” name and wrote down a description of it. I went on an adventure Friday (more later) and they don’t work on Saturday and Sunday, so I practiced the names-photos-signs intensively for three days and – miracles of miracles!! I learned ALL their names in words and sign! They were verrrrry impressed (as was I!!)

In addition, I’m realllllllly trying to learn enough sign language to communicate…. I carry my sign language “primer” around everywhere …. And I do a lot of improvising (I’m sure you can all imagine my “sign” explaining why I didn’t want my photos taken with everyone because I wasn’t wearing a bra!)

Needless to say, we laugh a lot!

After just a week, I am impressed at my ability to get my messages across.

On Monday I started “drawing lessons”… I had reviewed their “portfolios” and they were horrendous. NOT because they lack ability, but they are missing any and all basics of drawing and yet were trying to draw cityscapes and temples and trees with prayer flags strung throughout their limbs. Not possible.

We started with the cylinder in 3D and within two days they were drawing containers of all sorts – water bottles, jars, cups, SCOPE bottles – and they were really good! I’m so impressed! Tomorrow we start on the cube…. I think this is going to be more of a challenge, but…. Why not?? I taught the cylinder by using about 4 “words” --- same, straight, right and wrong – and it worked!

Oh! And today I put the alphabet on the board in lower case and upper case because I wanted to practice my sign language alphabet. Instead, it turned into an hour-long lesson on printing the alphabet…. THEN they wanted to try to write the alphabet…. And they did! So tomorrow I’m teaching each of them to write their name in cursive. (I did get to practice my sign alphabet …. Doing pretty good, but ….)

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