One of the biggest challenges in my career has been bridging the communication gap that exists when two people don’t share a language. That’s been a story line each year. In my four year career, I’ve had 80 students. The parents of roughly ten of those children spoke English well enough for me to talk with them. In all other cases (be the families speakers of Spanish or Chinese) I relied on an interpreter. Unfortunately, despite best intentions, interpretations are often, well, lost in translation.
Now, back in high school, I was a pretty solid student of the Spanish language. In fact, I am often known to tell people who remark at my ability to speak Spanish: “Tuvo un noventa y seis en la escuela secondaria.” Now, though, all those years later, having never been immersed fully in the language, I only retain some of it. I can hold a basic conversation but can not fully address parents’ needs or concerns in Spanish. In essence, effective communication is extremely difficult.
Well, this year, I’ve decided that, the situation being what it is, it’s on me to work through it.
Today, I planned to write five “Nice Notes” to send home to parents as a way of celebrating something awesome about their kid. It’s something I’ve done before, but Josh Stumpenhorst’s recent post catalyzed the most recent batch. I think it is important that the notes are delivered in my handwriting with my message, so I didn’t request my para’s translation abilities. As such, it took me a good 20 minutes to write out three notes, two of which were in Spanish. Now I know what my buddy Greta says when she tells me how difficult it sometimes is for her to think something in one language and have to write it in another.
Anyway, the point is this: “Nice Notes” are worth sending, but they’re worthless if the recipient can’t read them. So it’s on me to take the extra effort and time required to make sure those notes make the impact for which they are intended.