12 days in common
Posted by sebastianbrown on May 7, 2010
You probably woke up this morning thinking “what the heck’s going on in Nob Hill anyway?” So did I. While the blog posts haven’t kept up, the English class/mutual support has been going strong twice a week for nearly two months now. A couple weeks ago, the group and I thought of doing some more outreach to our neighbors to invite them to participate in our group. To attract more people, we planned a pizza/pupusa party to introduce new comers to the English class as well as our mutual support tool. In addition to some original class members who had dropped off in recent weeks, a couple first timers showed up as well.
What’s been great about the group has also made it difficult to involve people of diverse backgrounds: all the residents are non-English speaking Central Americans. So it was a welcomed surprise to have Kiran from Nepal and Tsehay from Ethiopian show up looking to meet some neighbors. We spent the first hour just eating and talking informally in small groups. Kiran and Tsehay began speaking with each other about how the core theme of the Neighbors Campaign (neighbors helping neighbors through mutual support) was an inextricabble piece of their daily lives back home.
Tsehay explained how in Ethiopia when someone dies the entire surrounding community rallies to the family’s aid. Once they raise enough money amongst themselves to cover all of the burial costs, a large group then stays to comfort the family for 12 days, leaving the 13th morning. Right as Tsehay mentioned this, Kiran lit up and said “no way!” She told us how in Nepal they have the exact same practice of accompanying the family for exactly 12 days! Neither of them had any idea that this was common practice any where outside their own country.
And, probably to the surprise of the group, Tsehay and Kiran admitted that part of their reason for coming was in order to learn Spanish because “it’s quickly becoming this country’s second official language.” Too excited to wait for Monday, they got an initial 15 minute lesson from Kenny, who was pleased to have an opportunity to practice his English.
Come by any Monday or Wednesday at 7pm at the Nob Hill YMCA Community Center (9100 Piney Branch) to check out this ESOL/mutual support group in action.