Climbing Over a Language
Kid’s Summer Programming
During my two months as intern at SPI, I organized and carried out some of the Summer Camp activities for the kids. With a friend, who I met through SPI, we spent most of our time with kids between 6 and 12 years old. We had an excursion to the Island, we created piñatas, had movie nights, games, handicrafts…
I was lucky enough to share my experience with someone with Arabic as mother tongue. For how much we had fun with the kids, I very soon realized how important it is to speak the language in which the kids communicate.
On the boat to the Princess Island
The Barrier of the language
Not speaking Arabic has been a challenge for me, not only because of the practical organization – the communication with the kids’ parents was mostly impossible, as well as the explanation of the activities that we wanted to carry out – but also on a more human level. Communication can resolve conflicts, can clarify misunderstanding and inform people what we feel. Not understanding the language that you are supposed to communicate with, prevents you from having discussions and exchange opinions. It precludes you to hear the Story of a person and to tell your own Story.
Daytrip on the Princess Island
Go beyond words
Even though my almost complete lack of Arabic knowledge has been a barrier in some cases, it is also true that communication goes beyond words, especially if it comes to kids.
I relied on pantomime and gestures skills and on my about 30 words-Arabic-knowledge, most of the times the result turned out to be really funny. The kids are absolutely lovely and we nearly always managed to share laughs, emotions, games and funny moment without many words! Moreover, if you cannot understand what a person says, you pay more attention to non-verbal communication. To her body language, to his facial expression. If it is true that with words you can express your feelings more in detail, what your body shows is more sincere.
Stones painting on the Island
Piñata making at the Park
Have a go!
Kids also just appreciate the time you spend with them no matter how much you speak. Make a good use of the body language is helpful: by shrugging our shoulder we just said “I don’t know!”, by turning our hands by palms up we mean “I don’t know what else to say” and by bending rapidly many times your fingers you are saying “come here”. So much can be expressed without the use of a single world!
However, learning some basics of the requested language is reasonable and above all useful.
Personally, I saw that kids had fun if I spoke some words in Arabic and still took seriously what I said. It is important not to be intimidated and just try to speak…in the worst case you will make someone laugh!