Saturday, February 18, 2012

Kidogo Kiswahili

Translation : A Little Swahili.

If you know me, you know that I always want to improve, and be the best I can be at whichever. Sometimes this is horribly detrimental. But in the professional/social work aspect of things, I always try to learn something new so that I can be the most constructive version of myself.

The other day, I asked Juliet (the social worker I shadow at Lea Toto) what she feels I could improve on, or what she feels might be holding me back. She said it was the language barrier, since many of our clients don't speak English. She is constantly translating for me while I try to pick out words from the conversations. I get the general idea of what they are saying (As in they are talking about children, food, school, water, drugs) but I can never tell what they are saying about those things. I want to do more while I'm here, so I am finally cracking down and pushing myself to learn swahili.

Many travellers here I feel don't make the effort to learn the language. I even met a friend who was seeking an NGO job yet when I asked her, she said she didn't really care to learn to speak swahili. I can't think of any better way to connect with others than being able to speak their language. Depending on how life goes, maybe I'll try to learn a little Kikuyu or Luo (tribal languages) too.

I got all of my weekend chores done today, so that tomorrow (Sunday) I can dedicate to learning some swahili. My hope is that within a couple of months I will be fluent, but we will see how that goes. It will all come down to hard work and dedication. I think I've got that.

My Swahili learning supplies. I've got the lesson book, the swahili-english dictionary, the phrasebook, the online course to accompany the lessons, and a book (however, in English) on African political history. I'm counting it as part of the learning because it'll add some much needed background and perspective on both the language and life here in general. And of course, post-its :)

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