On Language…and immigration

Learning a foreign language can bridge social barriers.  With the recent influx of refugees to America from all over the world, we can see, in practice, that this is absolutely true. Because of this, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to learn to speak, read, and write in Nepali. My emergence into this foreign language has opened my eyes to the power of language. I have some thoughts to share and I’ll break them up over the next few posts. enjoy20160517_235908

In 2014,  Mayor Sarno of Springfield Mass. less than tactfully outlined the difficulties a community can face when receiving immigrants and refugees from war-torn countries.For many coming to New England from warmer climates for example, the weather here can be oppressive.  I cringed when he used the word “dumping” while referring the relocation efforts in Springfield. That language sounded abrasive to me in particular because I live in the kind of neighborhood where refugees and immigrants get their introduction to american culture. Lets say…its not a gated community.  And as black person living in America, im all too familiar with use of language to stigmatize, alienate, and ‘otherize’ individuals who don’t fit into a generally accepted category. I’ll keep this post positive though. I know what Mayor Sarno was trying to say. In any case, as a result of this “dumping” I’ve had the privilege of befriending and assisting people from all over the world; Including Nepal, Bhutan, Somalia, Congo, Sudan and…thats all I can think right now as I type. I dont think I would have ever entertained the idea of learning to read Devanagari script, had it not been for the my desire to reach out to and communicate with my southeast asian friends, a few of which are like family to me. Meet Ranan; His parents lived in a refugee camp in Bhutan and were relocated to Springfield 3 years ago. His parents call me “Daju”. It means ‘brother’. So I call Ranan my nephew. 20160312_183742

 

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4 thoughts on “On Language…and immigration

  1. That’s an amazing initiative you’ve taken on. I’ve been trying to get back into learning Spanish, but time is against me. My husband is doing it in school this semester though, so maybe that will help.to encourage me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Its actually been one the most fulfilling experiences ive had. Based on your recent post about friends, im sure you agree that our relationships have enormous impact on us. This has given me a chance to connect with people i may have never met. And it has enriched my life. And yes Spanish! Its always been elusive to me as well, my wife is Puerto-Rican, Ive been married for 13 years and still all i got is ‘hola’, ‘como estas’ ,bien..not much else. Thanks for commenting

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Married for 13 years to a Puerto Rican and that’s all you know? For shame! Hahaha. My husband doesn’t know a word of Jamaican creole either so don’t feel bad.

        Yes, I do agree that building great relationships with people matter. And the less barriers we put up against finding those people and getting to know them, the better.

        America needs to preach more blending and less segregation. The xenophobia is getting out of hand..

        Liked by 2 people

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