I must say, to look at the instructions for the ED 307 Partnering Pedagogies Investigation Video was daunting. I was learning about a new topic on top of learning how to create a multimedia video. I was very intimidated. What helped was the topic: Global Collaboration. Granted, the final say on topic choice belonged to my professor, but I was very pleased when I was allowed to create my project based on this topic. My love of foreign languages and foreign cultures fans the flames of my every day life.
This week I found myself at the doctor's office again because that's what most people encounter at this time of year in North Alabama. The wait time to be called back was exceedingly long: longer than I've ever spent waiting at this particular office. Good thing I had my kindle! Or so I thought. As I was sitting there in the waiting room, I couldn't help but notice this darling little ball of energy with dark curls, bouncing and dancing and talking up a storm. At first I noticed that she was speaking English as well as any three year old does. But then I noticed that she was speaking Portuguese. "How wonderful!" I thought. As we were sitting there, I heard the father speaking to the mother in Spanish and a mix of Portuguese. The mother spoke only in Portuguese. The daughter spoke to the mother in Portuguese and to the father in English!
At one point the mother saw me smiling and said, "Three years old, she doesn't have an off switch." To which I responded, "Mine are nine and five and are both the same way." We commiserated for only a moment because the conversation turned very quickly to how much I admired the daughter's dual language abilities and my own experiences with foreign languages. I told the mother how I knew a small amount of Portuguese (which she said I pronounced better than her husband did!) and Spanish as well as several phrases in Norwegian, Arabic, Japanese, Italian, German and Korean. I explained that I knew a great deal of French and Mandarin. And that's when it happened. When I said Mandarin, she leaned in closer, got very serious and said, "You need to speak to my husband." I told them that I learned Mandarin while I was in the Air Force. As it turned out, their son is stationed at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, CA, learning Farsi, which is the sister language to the one my husband learned while in the Air Force, Dari. They are both spoken in Afghanistan. Now, it may not seem like it to the outside observer but there are so many people in the Air Force and so many different jobs, it's really not that common to meet someone else who has been stationed at the DLIFLC unless you knew them while you were there. On top of all of this, the father told me that while he was enlisted, he had the same job that my brother currently has and that he knows people performing the same job that my sister currently does, both of whom are still proudly serving their country. Needless to say, the world became much smaller for me that day.
The reason my experience in Mandarin piqued their interest is because, as the father explained to me, his company has a contract with the Marines to translate documents into Mandarin and they will be looking for people to help them with that. So here I was, sick in the doctor's office, trying desperately not to cough, making business connections for global collaboration projects.
To me, respect for other cultures is of the utmost importance. How can we begin to know ourselves if we have no basis for comparison? Being a good person begins with love and acceptance, both of which we are all born with the ability to do. In order to overcome the hate and malice that is so prevalent in this world, we must hold on to the ability to learn, understand and accept. I believe this begins with us and our children. If we teach them to hate and be unforgiving they will hate and be unforgiving. But if we teach them love...they will love. If we teach them to understand... they will understand. If we teach them to accept the differences of others and appreciate those differences... they will learn to love themselves for who they are and to love others for being who they are.
Global collaboration opens so many doors for our students. Just imagine a classroom, any classroom, where there is no judgement, no fear, no malice, where students from two completely different countries are working together to create something beautiful, something unique, something that would not have been created otherwise. Now imagine what the students will take away from this experience. They will remember what they have learned because it will have meant something. It will have made an impression. They will come away with a new found knowledge about the culture they have just interacted with. That is global collaboration. Simply, it's working on a project with people from other parts of the world. On an entirely different scale, they are sewing lifelong attachments to something greater than themselves. It's awe inspiring to know that you are a part of something so much larger than yourself. It is so humbling to know that there is so much more to the world than just you. Our children, our students, deserve the opportunity to experience these things. I, for one, will never say no to a global collaboration opportunity.
On this Veterans Day, thank you to all those who are serving, have served, those who support our service men and women including their families and to all those we have lost. God Bless you all.