Friday, July 10, 2009

Speaking Their Language

After a grueling week of day camp at The Potter's House, the most rewarding thing seemed to be when any of the adults finally started speaking a given child's language. That doesn't mean I now understand Romanian, or that my new Irish and Northern Irish friends picked it up in two days, but at certain times, you could tell that we understood the child, and they understood us.

Yesterday my mom roped me into teaching some of the kids the Hustle; I never thought the things I learned at a high school dance would come in handy. After lunch, I eased my way to the open cement slab and started dancing to "Oh, Ancient of Days" with my mom and the other ladies working the camp. They quickly caught on and some of the kids did, too. It was fun, but I didn't really think it stuck, so we moved on to the next idea to keep the kids occupied for at least one more hour.

But when we walked into the Potter's House this morning, a little girl named Loredonna (pronounced Laura-Donna) ran up to me asking me in choppy fragments of English if we would dance soon. We quickly nodded our heads, and in the back of my mind I was rather surprised she thought to ask about it. After breakfast had ended, we found the CD that had the appropriate song, and soon we were hustling like nobody's business. I was speaking her language. She couldn't help but have an extremely proud smile on her face as I continued to give her two thumbs-up and say "Bravo!" in a pitiful attempt at an Eastern European accent.

She was such a natural when it came to dancing that she wanted to teach me a dance, as well. We were able to share the experience of being teacher and student. I couldn't help but think that Mr. Harle would be proud of my feminist pedagogy. We each messed up, but we both encouraged the other that our dance-moves were worth not pooping out on.

She was the hardest child I had to part ways with. I know I won't soon forget the moves to her dance, and I hope that every time either of us hears the classic tune about the Ancient of Days, that our instant urge will be to Hustle. I know my first thought will to be to take three steps to the right.

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