Today’s greatest hits

I just watched my first movie in Spanish and understood it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yoohoo!!!

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The following is a conversation I had with a 5 year-old today:

Me: “I am 21 years old, that’s right!”

Aitana: “¿Solo tienes 21 años? Eres niña.”

What????!?!? Aitana better prove herself in that classroom if she’s going to get off calling me a niña.

What does it mean when a 5 year-old calls you a little girl?

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Well, I did it.  I managed to secure myself all adult classes with the exception of one group of rowdy but hilarious 12 year-old boys.  You can imagine what goes on in that classroom.

With this group of boys I played a game  that Yenni told me about called “Turn, Jump, Twizzle, Freeze” which is pretty self-explanatory.  You just shout out the commands (twizzle means jumping and turning at the same time) and when you should “Freeze” and someone is still moving, they’re out.  The good thing about the game is that the kids can take turns shouting the commands themselves and therefore invest more in the game.  Nothing was funnier than hearing jump become “yomp,” twizzle become “twee-thell,” and hearing turn and freeze perpetually confused with one another.

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Meanwhile, in my adult classes, I finally got some drama.  Turns out some people have quite the negative reaction to rising immigration in Spain, as would be expected in a country that has only recently experienced immigration and all it entails.  Class discussions got pretty heated as the majority of my adults agreed with a Swiss vote to ban all future construction of minarets on mosques.  To quote one of my students, “todos pagan por uno,” which is comparable to “collective punishment,” a concept which she wholeheartedly supported. I could explain the reasons why banning minarets is completely ineffective in doing whatever people think it will do, or why banning minarets is a violation of religious freedom, but I don’t think you need me to explain that to you.

My students’ emphatic opinions is just another reminder that in the end, people make decisions based on a gut emotional reaction.  And often this isn’t a bad thing at all. But in this case people are only reacting from their fear of change, from the threat they feel that what it means to be “Spanish” is changing, and forgetting several relevant facts, such as the fact that not all Muslims are terrorists (for one).

I’m almost done reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and I think I may have to list it under “Favorite Books” on Facebook. This issue brings the book to mind because the protagonist takes issue with the modern separation between rationality/reason and emotion.  He argues that often rational pursuits are most aided by a deep passion for the subject. So now that I have been reading his thoughts, I must reconsider everything I say as we are so influenced by that separation that to us appears innate. I’ll probably talk more about this when I finish the book.

For now, I’ll just say that it’s distressing to see my students so overcome by fear and stubbornness that they are totally blinded to their lack of compassion and understanding of fellow human beings (the same can be said for the terrorists themselves…the only thing separating them and us is their poverty and desperation). If I believe anything, it’s that we’re here to find ways to get along and help each other create things that make the world better, not vice versa.  And the only way to do that is to try to see the world from the other person’s perspective.  I’ll be the first to admit that I am very bad at doing this, but before denying a whole group it’s civil rights, let’s just try to look at the bigger picture first.

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