Lost In Translation

Molo, unjani?

(Hello, how are you?)


One of the classes that I am enrolled in is a service-learning class. This class consists of traveling to the townships of Guguletu to engage with students in the after school programs with the Amy Foundation. At the school I help 9-12 year old children with math and english homework. After 1.5 hours of homework help, I move onto cultural discussions with teenagers ranged from 15-18 years old. In this class we discuss relevant and everyday problems in South Africa. During this civic engagement, the students and I face a language barrier in both directions. Many of the children and teachers only speak Xhosa, and for those that do speak or understand English, speak a very broken English. Due to this barrier it makes it difficult to navigate the casual conversation or deep rooted conversations. To make our points come across to each other we have each challenged ourselves to learn each others languages little by little. I have learned some Xhosa and they have learned some English. Xhosa is particularly hard to learn because the language consists of clicking sounds made by pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth. The natives laugh when we try to use the clicks because it does not sound normal, but we do not get discouraged!

I enjoy the connections and friendly relationships we have made with the locals as well as the students and teachers. This allows for a sustaniable two-way learning experience.


Sala ngokuba ngokui

(Goodbye for now)