Tonight at ESL class, I worked one-on-one with a woman from Morocco who speaks Arabic! I'll call her "Lilly." I greeted her with a typical Islamic greeting that I picked up somewhere, and has come in handy quite often. Her eyes lit up and she realized I was speaking her language... but I had to disappoint her when I explained that was pretty much all I knew.
Lilly knows very little English, so we worked together outside of the regular class to focus specifically on some basic vocabulary. She has a lot to learn, but she is eager and definitely making progress.
Meeting Lilly tonight reminded me of my many Middle Eastern friends I have met over the past few years and made me wonder what they are up to now. Teaching Lilly reminded me of the intense satisfaction and thrill I get out of watching someone learn. Listening to Lilly imitate my sounds, and mimic the shape of my mouth, and then actually produce a very similar sentence as me was incredible. Spending time with Lilly and even taking a minute or two to learn some Arabic phrases reminded me of life overseas, and language learning days. Being with Lilly made me want to ask her if I could come visit her at her home this week. Talking with Lilly gave me a face-to-face interaction with another culture, language and religion- one that is pretty far away from my own.
Sitting with Lilly tonight was the highlight of my day.