A couple weeks back, we were lucky enough to have Teresa Chin (pictured) and Cliff Lee of Youth Radio join us in the classroom for a session on interviewing techniques. With excellent mic handling skills (and a great deal of giggling), the girls interviewed each other about their lives and what was important to them. You can catch those files, as well as their homework for the day, in separate posts under the “radio” tag.
I also asked the girls to write a piece to share the sound of home for them. It could be anything – their alarm clock in the morning, their parents cooking a meal, the sound of wind through a particular tree outside their window. (We all got super into the sounds you can take in with a good recorder when the headphone volume is turned all the way up – wind can be absolutely gorgeous. Who knew?) I thought about this for myself, and it hit me while walking through the courtyard at OIHS, listening to conversations in Karen and Spanish and Arabic and Somali and Farsi. The sound of home for me… is languages that I recognize, but don’t speak.
Growing up, my parents didn’t teach my sister and me to speak Twi. But it was always in the background, meaning that now I have this ghostly grammar hanging out when I hear it spoken. I can pick out insults in Akan languages, certain verbs in French, certain place names in Tagalog. When I was younger, I worried a lot that my sense of displacement meant I’d never find a permanent home anywhere. It’s beginning to seem, though, that it’s giving me the ability to sink in wherever I may find myself – even, to my occasional surprise, in Oakland. Along with the girls, I’m learning how to settle in and make this place home.