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わたし October 18, 2012

The above, which reads ‘watashi,’ means simply “I.” It took my colleague and I two weeks to appreciate this, and we have far from mastered its use. This, of course, is only “I” as expressed in Hiragana, one of Japan’s three written alphabets (the other two being Katakana and Kanji). But that is just the beginning. ‘Watashi’ is only one (gender neutral) way of referring to oneself. ‘Watakushi’ is a more formal (even arrogant) variation; ‘boku’ is a polite masculine form, ‘ore’ an aggressive masculine form (for tough guys). But it doesn’t stop there; atashi, uchi, kochira, ware, wagahai, oira, shessha, atai, yo, and warawa are all distinct ways of expressing “I” in Japanese, each with their own connotations and proper context.

As you can imagine, all of these possibilities leave my colleague and I asking: “Who am I?” Or, to relate it to our work at the UCWBL, who am I as a tutor, in the context of a multilingual partnership? (more…)


Alif… Baa… Taa: Tutoring Through a Different Lens October 8, 2012

The UCWbL’s Peter D. is studying in Jordan this semester.  Tune in here for this exciting series on language, learning, and culture.

I began my work at the Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) in Amman, Jordan last week. JRS is an organization founded by the Catholic Jesuits but is now religiously unaffiliated and tends to people from a variety of backgrounds.  It focuses on aiding the refugee populations of Amman, including the large Syrian, Palestinian, Iraqi, Somalian, and Sudanese communities, and offers all kinds of resources – ranging from education and daycare assistance to ESL immersion and higher education opportunities – that serve as lifelines of much-needed support for those adjusting to life after displacement and exile.

After some time hopping around between various child-care slots and ESL programs, I finally landed in a spot where I hope my work at the UCWbL will benefit students thousands of miles away from DePaul – in the adult degree accreditation program. (more…)


Alif… Baa… Taa: A Language and Writing Odyssey in Amman September 21, 2012

The UCWbL’s Peter D. is studying in Jordan this semester.  Tune in here for this exciting series on language, learning, and culture.

I scrambled to explain to my O’Hare security-line neighbor, a businessman from Amman, why I would be studying intensive Classical Arabic for the semester. (more…)