By Lettie • January 22, 2021
When I met and married a kind Japanese man in NYC, I thought he would learn a bit more English and we would continue to live our lives there. But in life's twists and turns we ended up living in Tokyo! I was the one who needed to learn Japanese...and fast! There is no experience quite as lonely as living in a foreign country without a grasp of the language. Especially to make friends and to break that loneliness it is the first and foremost goal to attain...always an uphill climb, while totally humbling!
I was a trained English Language teacher, and while I lived abroad I did that work, and when we moved back to America I planned to continue it. The country's financial woes at the time, however, saw deep cuts to the English as a Second Language positions in the schools and to refugee language programs. So I simply took a job in a department store, at its Child Playroom. But, this store was located near a major corporation that hired some of its workforce from many other countries. Often a preschooler in my playroom could not speak a word of English, and would look so lost and lonely! My heart flew to them! We would play language games and they would teach their language to me.
Years later, when a small girl who had come from South America had become fluent in English, she said to me, "Teacher, remember when I called you Maestra?"
Translation: "that time when you showed me the most love?"
Another child whose language was only Russian originally - and we built a robot from blocks and fed it block food...and learned English words that way - would come years afterwards and insist on playing that same game! These moments became my life compass - due north is that place where when persons are different, Love Matters!
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