Being Multilingual (Sort Of) in Airports

Ah, the United States, home of overly large burgers, obesity, ignorance, and above all else- a lack of desire to learn any more foreign language than the two years of Spanish you took as a credit in high school.

Ok, maybe an exaggeration, but not too far off. Many people in the states do not learn languages until high school, and even when they do, the detest it and only do it for two years to fill the credits.

I am not one of those people.

I have spent my entire high school career devoted to languages. I am in my third year of German, my third year of Spanish, my second year of French, and have dabbled in Swahili, Swedish, and Italian. Oh and once I tried to learn some Arabic. Maybe I was too tired.

Anyway, this large amounts of studying leads to lots of random blurbs in different languages. See past blog posts:

Bonjour!

Je suis à la maison pour aujourd’hui. Sandpoint est chaud, comme mars est fini. Je veux marcher à la montagne et reposer en le soleil. À l’école, nous avons beaucoup de devoirs. Trop devoirs, en fait. Dans álgebra, dans anglais, dans allemand. Tous mes cours, j’ai devoirs. J’ai un examen dans l’álgebra aussi. Il est très difficile. Je vais étudier demain. 

Je planifie un voyage pour juin de 2018. Nous allons Pérou. Je suis très excité. Je vais avec mes amis est mes professeurs. Nous avons à Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Lima, et Lac Titicaca. Pérou est vraiment intéressant et beaux.

Au Revoir,
Namayani

Or maybe this one?

Guten Abend! Heute war ein langweilig Tag. Ich gehe zu der Schule nur um mehr Hausaufgaben zu bekommen. Wann ich komme nach mein Haus, ich muss der Hausaufgaben machen oder Aufgaben machen. Aber, ich ist dankbar für meine Freunde, für meine Familie, und für mein Leben. Es kann kompliziert sein, aber es ist gut. Der Schule ist sehr schwer jetzt, da es ist drittes Semester. Viele und viele Hausaufgaben. Ugh.

Es ist Winter hier. Februar bringt viele Schnee und der Kalt. Ich mag der Schnee, aber ich habe nicht die Zeit zum Snowboard. Meine Freunde Ski laufen, aber ich bin beschäftigt mit der Schule und die Krankheit. Ich hatte Lungenentzündung zwei Wochen nach ich kam zurück zuhause von Italien. Ich vermisste ein Woche der Schule und hatte viele Hausaufgaben. 

In der Schule, wir sind ein College-Bericht machen. Ich will zu der Oxford Universität gehen. Ich würde Deutsch und Russisch studieren. Ich würde vier Jahre gehen, und ich wohne in Oxford Stadt. Es ist der zweiälteste Universität in der Welt. Ich würde da für drei Jahre wohnen. Ein Jahre würde in Russland haben auch. Studieren in Oxford würde sehr genial sein.

Auf Wiedersehen für jetzt,
Namayani

 

I get a lot of reactions. Sometimes they are nice and genuinely amazed (yeah, I don’t know how I survive finals week either). Sometimes I get responses that sting a bit (“Hey Google Translate, can you do anything wrong?”).

However, the main response is “why?”. I believe this is an abbreviation of “why would I learn another language?”

Well. Frankly, there is a ton of reasons.

Being multilingual is the way I survive while traveling. Many countries have the “you are in our country, speak our language” policy. What are you supposed to do then?

For example, when I was in Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, France, I had to cross through the border screening on my own. There was a tall, bulky fellow American in front of me. Remember my description of the US at the top? The third phrase? Ignorant?

He fit the description. He was getting mad at the border officers because they refused to speak English. I’m sure they knew English too, most people in airports do.

Anyway, this man got progressively angrier, and very frustrated with the officers. He just had to say where he was going and why. That was it. He was borderline yelling and eventually the officer let him through, but barely. Hence, I am assuming the officer knew English.

After this whole shenanigan, I stepped up to get my passport stamped and to be honest, I was a little intimidated by scary-only-French-speaking Officer. I took a deep breath.

“Bonjour, comment allez vous?”

“Très bien. D’où êtes-vous?”

“États Unis.”

“Où allez-vous?”

“Italie.”

“Ah. Bien. Bon voyage, mademoiselle.”

“Merci, monsieur. Au revoir.”

The entire conversation was under three minutes and I got through just fine. That, my friends, is why you learn another language.

Celebrate Life in My Eyes

Growing up with a mom who has cancer is both not as horrible as some people construe it to be and a lot worse than some make it seem. Given that the last time I saw my mother was when I was seven, a.k.a. nine years ago, I often times struggle with what it truly was like for me. Was it awful and full of sickness, tears, doctors, a vague understanding, and then a knowledge that I will never see, talk, or hear from her again? Yes, most definitely.

However, that’s not entirely true. I still see her continue to walk with me through my daily life, through the strenuous tasks high school presents me, to coaching a U7 soccer team, to starting my blog, to traveling across the globe to meet her pen pal, and everything I am involved in. When I say she is with me, I do not mean in a spiritual sense or physically or mentally. She is there in the good memories and in the people her life has affected. One of those major ways is through Celebrate Life.

Every year I watch hundreds of people try and cram together on Dog Beach and my aunt and her crew work so hard throughout the year to see this through. This project is not something that affects one or two people, but has changed our entire community and has helped many people for many years.

As people age, I believe that they begin to understand that it is not the large, life changing events that matter so much as the little things. In life, it’s the those things that are most pleasing, but are also the most difficult to conquer. Celebrate Life is an organization that aids people in the little things, from gas to groceries, the stresses that get overlooked when it comes to expenses that are part of the daily routine of a cancer patient. This is one of the things that makes it so incredibly unique, but also so incredibly effective.

The people who make up this team are a united front against cancer and battle constantly against the challenges it brings. It never ceases to amaze me with what they do for the area with all of its people. They never stop with their hard work and do not pause, helping everyone they can.

Celebrate Life means to me the continuation of my mother’s understanding and empathy of the struggles of disease and pursuit of a world not so wound up in concern, budgets, tears, and a fear of the unknown; ultimately it is the continuation of my mother herself, and I am so proud of what it has become.

If you are in Sandpoint on the second weekend of August, make sure to register!

 

 

Why You Should Learn CPR (and Wear a Helmet)

As a babysitter, parents often times require that you have taken first aid and/or CPR classes. As a manager at the high school cross country team, the first aid bit comes in handy too. However, I never would dream that I would have to use CPR.

In fact, there is a very low percentage of people who have to use CPR, although they took classes for it. Nevertheless, this is what happened:

During the winter of 2015, my friend and I began to start our second year of snowboarding. It was her first day and my third. We were out on a cat track to some black diamond runs, gliding far beneath the thick fog and clouds. I had my board freshly waxed, so there was a bit of a time gap between us.

As I pulled up on the ridge to wait, I could no longer see her. I debated on hiking up but she appeared over the edge. Given that if you are slow or hesitant on that track, you will be forced to push yourself and that was what she did, I assumed that was what happened .

She sat down next to me and was breathing strangely. A skier passed in a puffy jacket with a guest pass attached. It was around that time that she spoke.

“My arm really hurts.”

“Ok, well can you move it?”

She tried to lift it and could not. She got a small twitch in her thumb, but that was about it. Nothing more, and nothing less.

“My stomach really hurts too.”

At this point, I am realizing that frankly, arms and stomachs are not really attached. I asked what happened, realizing that she was not stuck.

“A skier hit me right here, ” she forced out of her lungs while gesturing to her central back, “I rolled, and it really hurts.”

“Your legs seem alright, can you make it down and out the track to the lodge?”

“Definitely not.”

By now, I am out of my boots and walking up the hill a bit. These two elderly ladies who looked like they were going to make me some gingersnap cookies answered my yells but couldn’t figure out how to work their phones to get the patrol. An instructor with two young children was on their way however and she made the call.

It had been less than two minutes when I went back to her. I checked for pulse, breathing, everything. No movement, no response, and her face was purple.

I immediately began CPR.

She jumped and made an animal like noise as soon as the air made it back into her lungs after the first few rounds. She began to mumble, but I couldn’t make anything out. I ripped off my coat and first layers and she lay there in the snow, waiting for the patrol. They came with their sled and oxygen mask. Taking her by skis the steeper part, then by snowmobile the second area, we made it down to the lodge. They took her by ambulance to the hospital and I had to file a report. It was a hit and run.

Later that day, I arrive at the hospital. She suffered some memory loss, a ruptured spleen, a sever concussion, whiplash, and a broken rib. If she was not wearing a helmet, or with someone who knew CPR, she would have died.

It took around thirteen times to get an IV, multiple X-Rays, other scans, and intensive care, but she was released on Christmas Day and remains alive and well to this day.

I am so grateful that things went well that day, I don’t know where I would be without her. Huge thanks to the ski patrol and emergency teams for keeping us safe!

Oh and PS. Wear a helmet.

Journal Entry: 16 June, 2016: Orbomba, Tanzania

  • 7:30- Wake up
  • 8:00- Activities with leaders and breakfast
  • 9:00- Swahili lessons. A very interesting language, hard to pronounce at first. The conjugation is very interesting (subject rather than verb). Leki and Mollel are very helpful.
  • 11:00- Began creating community goals and played squirt, along with comfort/challenge/panic. It was interesting to see how much stuff I was actually comfortable with. Talked about goat sacrifice slaughter ordeal.
  • 12:30- ate lunch- pizza, rolls, vegetables, and rice. Played game to get first pickings, was a riddle, names were part of it (had to come up with a word starting with the last letter of their first name)
  • 13:30- Played an intense round of spoons. Began a leaderboard in which Shania won. Kyle and I played speed for the fifteenth time. He won once and I won once.
  • 14:30- Went to visit schools. Very different from ours. Very rundown, no technology, and still chalkboards. No stuff on the walls. It was very different from us and our schools.
  • 15:15- Left to go on a walk. The directional skills of Leki and Mollel never cease to amaze me. We saw a bunch of kids, played soccer with them, spoke in Swahili. Saw a puppy named Logo. Saw a lot of cows and saw our first antelope
  • 17:15- Returned to camp
  • 18:00- Dinner- mashed potatoes, steak, fried bananas. Used tree riddles.
  • 18:30- Played Mafia and other card games
  • 19:00: Did activity on five pillars of sustainability
  • 20:30: Continued with our card games. Lost in speed two more times.
  • 22:00: Bed time

How I Became Like a Cliché Movie

It was close to midnight as I was scrolling through my mom’s blog in the spring of 2016. I read page after page of stories from when I was younger. Even though she died close to nine years ago, each page is left and available to read. I was scrolling through and stumbled across a post I had yet to read:

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2007

Friday Fun

At the urging of my college roommates, I have decided to create a list of 8 random things about myself that people might not know. I’m taking a break to have a little fun today and create this crazy list. If you have a blog, you’re supposed to post a list yourself, but if you don’t, feel free to leave it in the comments or email me. Either way, it’s a fun idea….kind of crazy, but fun. Have a great weekend!

1. I don’t like gingersnap cookies, but love molasses cookies. Technically, aren’t they the same thing??

2. I have zero regrets in my life save maybe one. I should have started dating my husband when he asked me a year before we actually started dating.

3. I am a Law&Order Criminal Intent and SVU junkie when I can’t sleep. Not the new ones, mind you…the old ones. This especially drives my college roommate nuts because I like the detective on CI that knows everything about everything.

4. I have had a pen pal from Italy since 6th grade, and we still remain close. In fact, it would be a great goal if I made it to my 40th birthday to go visit her.

5. Number 4 would be difficult for me because I honestly dislike traveling. I am a bonified homebody if there is ever was one.

OK, wow. I didn’t even read facts 6-8. How had I gone my whole life without knowing about a pen pal my mom had for 20+ years?

It immediately became my personal mission to find this woman. I interviewed my dad, grandma, aunt, and everyone else for more information. At last I had some- her full name and an address from 1987. Real helpful.

I began searching Italian directories, Facebook, literally everywhere online for weeks, contacting random people. I even employed the help of 15 SHS Track and Field long distance runners. No one found anything.

At this point, I am becoming a little disheartened. This is an impossible task and will become another inaccessible part of my mom. I shrunk in my bus seat on the way home from our meet and contemplated.

We stopped to eat at a Subway and one of the juniors stuck his head out from the seat behind me.

“Hey, have you checked Instagram?”

I had yet to check there. But I hadn’t, figuring that most adults have Facebook rather than Insta and it’s more of a teenage platform (sorry to all the cool adults out there, not trying to damage your hipster status).

Nevertheless, I try later that night, in desperation. Sure enough, a profile pops up of Maria Claudia Crivellaro. I sat down and stared at it. I checked the time in that area. About 6 or 7 in the morning. I messaged her.

“Hello! Did you know a woman named Jenny Meyer? I am looking for her pen pal.”

No less than 4 minutes later, my phone buzzes as I was scrolling through another directory.

“Ciao! Yes, it’s me. I was your mother’s pen pal. And I’ve been looking for you and your family for ages. You are so beautiful and remind me of Jenny.”

I sat there in shock, reading and rereading the message. I did it. I found her.

Flash forwarding to about August of 2016, I get another message. One asking if I could come for the holidays.

On January 5th of 2017, I flew into the Venice Airport to stay with Maria and her family for two weeks, meeting her husband and daughters. We celebrated my birthday and the holidays, toured the area, and spent time together as one family. Did I mention Maria is a professional tour guide for Padova and knows the Veneto region (Check out her website here)? Who ever thought I would be so lucky?

Special thanks to the track team for not allowing me to give up. Also thank you to Maria and the Crivellaro family for allowing me to become one of them and hosting me. I love you all 🙂