Spring: A Time of New Beginnings and Reflections on the Past, Present and Future

4 Apr

Warning: this post will be chaotic and disorganized as I try to mention some of many things that have been on my mind…

With my dear friends last summer in Vancouver

First – sending thoughts, love and prayers to my dear Hastings sisters as they get ready to embrace a new, sweet baby into their large and amazing household.  I cannot imagine the four parent – six children household they will soon be living in but I have great faith and confidence in their ability to undertake this amazing and wonderful challenge.

Today is also a meaningful day for me – it marks 15 years since I embraced the Baha’i Faith.  In my meditations today, I particularly meditated on prayer and how after 15 years, it remains a challenge for me.  But as I did 15 years ago, I got another glimpse into its amazing reality as I studied with an incredible woman whose understanding and practice of it is so beyond my own.  Thank you for your insights.  With renewed conviction, I will strive to weave this all-important spiritual habit into the fabric of my life.

Roya writes her daily dictation words

I also contemplated about my future (as I love to do).  Over the last few weeks I have been thinking that I would really love to move toward social and economic development work in the future, first here in China and later perhaps with immigrants in another country.  My own struggles with Roya’s grade 1 schooling have helped me understand on a much deeper level the kinds of challenges faced by parents who either do not speak or are illiterate in the language in which their child is being schooled.  At the beginning of the year, I was both of those and would find myself doing things like signing forms I didn’t understand as well as being completely unable to help my daughter with her homework.  Moreover, I

Roya’s Chinese characters and pinyin.

was surprised at how in spite of the fact that I was actively trying to figure out how she was being taught and what she was responsible for knowing, being aware that the education system was vastly different from ones I was used to, it still took me a whole TERM to get an idea of this (and my understanding is still growing).  And during this time, I was aided by technology such as being able to use google translator (however poor it may be, still a great help) to translate homework text messages from Roya’s teachers.  Plus I was taking intensive Chinese classes.  How many immigrant parents have such luxuries?!  Being able to use my Chinese to help such parents would really be rewarding.  And working with youth in such challenging situations would also be – especially being able to help their intellectual and spiritual empowerment…

Finally, today I reflected on my progress in learning Chinese.  To say that studying 15 hours a week and working 10 1/2 hours a week (leaving me with one half-morning and one half-afternoon off per week) has been challenging is an understatement.  That is why the prospect of doing it again next year, in addition to an unspecified research project I am to undertake as part of my Chinese Government Scholarship, has been scary.  Lately, though, I have begun noticing that my Chinese has improved a lot (though of course there is a long way to go).  For example, I was recently able to call an express post company and arrange for a pickup, being able to both understand and make myself understood.  I am also able to read many more characters as I try to read signs while sitting on the bus – something I have tried to do since my arrival in China, when I could barely read a handful of them.  Overall, I am able to have practical interactions in Chinese with much fewer problems.  A few days ago, I also looked at the UBC Chinese course offerings, with the thought of taking Chinese there if/when I enroll in a PhD program, and discovered that my goal of knowing 1200 Chinese characters (to pass level 4 of the HSK Chinese test at the end of May) is way beyond what a student majoring in Chinese would know by third year.  This should not be surprising, I suppose, since they only take the classes 3 hours a week and not in an immersion environment but I still found it heartening.  So today I decided to focus next year on the practical use of Chinese (a big step for a “professional student” which my husband accurately likes to call me) and my ability to discuss abstract and important ideas which I do not really practice in my classes.  Undertaking my research will be another big challenge for my Chinese ability and plenty to sink my language learning teeth into.

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2 Responses to “Spring: A Time of New Beginnings and Reflections on the Past, Present and Future”

  1. mudspice May 1, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    Wow! I love that photo of us!! And I can’t believe Roya can write all of that Chinese. That is just absolutely amazing. It will be so fun the next time we see you guys to hear them talking away in Chinese. I’m guessing that what will probably happen is that Roya and Milad will talk to each other in Chinese when they play. I can’t wait to see it! And you too – you’ll be fluent when I see you next! How great!

    Lots of love!
    Erika

    • klarasadventures May 4, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

      Yeah, nowadays Roya and Milad sometimes play in Chinese, especially when playing “teacher and student”, one of their favorite games. My Chinese is improving…the more I know, though, the more I realize how much I don’t know…I guess it’s often like that. Learning characters seems to be a never-ending process; however when I communicate successfully with someone, it feels really great.

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