Tomorrow is our vice principal’s birthday. We had collected money for cake and flowers, but then we were told to take our books and learning and go to our homes to do school from there. (Thanks to the Coronavirus.) So, tomorrow during our Zoom meeting with all the KG to grade 5 teachers, there will be no cake, no hugs, no gifts.
Because of that, today I got an idea. I remembered Linoit.com, an online sticky note canvas. I thought we could bring a big virtual birthday card that we all signed to our online meeting.
She was in a lot of our What’s App groups, so I had to send individual messages. I asked a friend to translate my message into Arabic, and she did.
I sent it out to all the Arabic-speaking teacher numbers I had in my Contacts. I started getting responses and people were filling out sticky notes, so I knew it was working and the instructions were sound.
I was feeling a bit smug and powerful, though I’m 98.5% a language poser. “Yes, I can communicate in English or Arabic–whatever is needed,” I pretended.
I can actually answer back with a few sometimes misspelled responses, like thank you (شكراً) and you’re welcome (عفوا). I have an Arabic keyboard on my phone.
Google Translate is a great tool. I can translate Arabic into English easily, and get the gist of what someone is writing to me. When I try to write back, I’m not able to choose between the misspelled words and the real words that are auto-generated. (If you haven’t figured it out, I really can’t write Arabic, or even speak it.)
But tonight I was on a roll. In fact, my teacher friends could have much more easily communicated in English for our purposes, but I persisted carrying on a very small and simple conversation in Arabic. Until I got this response after one of my Arabic answers: 😬 the grimacing emoji.
“Oops! What did I say?” I wrote. That is not the first time I’ve had to write that phrase in a text conversation.
I should learn how to write it in Arabic and add it to my tiny repertoire!