Tag Archives: languagelearning

Weeks, Languages, Loans, Aladdin, and Elisha?

As we come up to the holiday of שָׁבוּעוֹת Shavuot, for the seven weeks, or 50 days counted down between Passover and Shavuot, we naturally think of the pleasures of staying up all night long to study languages, er, em, that is, to study Torah, in our Biblical languages of Hebrew and sometimes also Aramaic, with the occasional reference to another Semitic language like old Arabic, or Ugaritic, etc, for difficult words.

Great, so where do the loans come in, and what could the thief Aladdin and the prophet Elisha possibly have in common, apart from having spoken sister languages, you say.

Thank you! I am so glad you asked. It turns out that Aladdin and Elisha had quite a bit in common, being literary figures, young men of action, and you could even say financiers: they both gave Free Financial Assistance in their communities!

We know who and how Aladdin helped in stealing to survive, and in solidarity with other poor souls living in the streets. We also know how the prophet Elisha helped the widow by multiplying her oil and telling her to sell it, saving her and her sons from enslavement by their creditors. But how much better could it have been for both Aladdin, Elisha, and their communities , if crushing long-term debt didn’t exist in the first place? Isn’t that why we were commanded to release debts (and slaves) every seven years, and return property to original owners every 50 years?

This is where the Pro-bono legal aid, free debt and financial consumer education piece of our #PublicDomainInfrastructure is crucial. Knowing your rights and obligations is the first step toward taking responsibility for your own house, and then toward contributing to your community. Our financial and economic infrastructure must help create ways to rectify the structural biases inherent in our system, and encourage both individuals and communities to do the same. One tool for accomplishing this is debt-forgiveness, in circumstances of structural or personal inequity. Another tool is locally created currencies, such as Ithaca Hours or Time Banks. These are most effective when encouraged by local government as a supplement, or a means of complementing the existing federal currency. While local or community issued currencies are useful, they can be more useful in a society that has more fully included all of the population in the economic life of the community. For this reason, local currencies are more fully discussed in conjunction with Phase III of the #fourfreedomsmovement. These tools provide some short and long term solutions to problems that inhibit our democracy from building to full potential. Such solutions can further our ability to encourage every human being to live, contribute, and create to the fullest potential possible.

Let’s #EndPoverty , #EndHomelessness, & #EndMoneyBail starting by improving these four parts of our good #PublicDomainInfrastructure:

1. #libraries,

2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,

3. #UniversalHealthCare, and

4. good #publictransport

Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!!!, Walk !

#PublicDomainInfrastructure #StopSmoking for CCOVID-19 ShiraDest

May, 12020 HE

Astérix: Learn a language to bring freedom to others?

In Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, the Druid Panoramix, of that unconquerable village shared with Astérix the Gaul, came away with a scroll from the Library of Alexandria. Could it have contained what we see in the image above? Unlike Queen Cleopatra, we do not have to speak ten languages, but studying at least two or three can help widening one’s perspective. Or simply communicating with fellow workers.

FDR’s Four Freedoms, particularly freedom from fear, are echoed in this film. From fear of being fed to Sacred Crocodiles to fear of losing face, languages and learning play a key role in this film, as in our real world today. Languages and libraries can also play a key role in moving us from our current world situation to one in which every human being is free from fear. Here is one proposal for how I hope we could move on, from #publicdomaininfrastructure as phase I, to phase IV’s #freeRoomAndRice for every person.

Phase I, already coming into motion, involves both humanizing all people in the eyes of one another, and building up existing infrastructure that contribute most directly to our long-term democratic institutions. The arts and media have been effective, historically, in sculpting ways of seeing the world, and in bearing witness to events. This is important for building empathy. Films like this one, books like the Harry Potter series, and TV series like Babylon 5 all help. But our institutions also need support, in order to support us over the long haul.

Growing up without a car showed me the importance of having transportation. Living in Europe showed me how efficient a railway system can be. Events over the past 3.5 years have shown us all the importance of both public education and also of adult education in the local community, as well as ongoing availability of free legal and financial advice. These sets of needs all come together in the institution of the Public Library system, as does one other. The public health system relies heavily on the assumption that both basic health education and current information are accessible to the entire population. Thus, all four parts of our infrastructure: transport, libraries and early education, adult continuing education (especially financial and legal), and access to health care, impact all of us at all income levels. So, the hashtag #publicdomaininfrastructure was created to pull together those specific issues as a way to focus on a reduced set of areas that could have a higher impact on the lives of many people. In doing so, energy and time are freed up to allow more constructive solution sets to be created to all of our problems. Once transportation and knowledge are established in support of general health, ways of funding our remaining critical policy needs can be found, starting with reducing the needless and crushing collections burden many face for medical and student debt. Once reduced, these burdens then allow time and energy for more apprenticeships, tutoring, and ways of educating ourselves that allow for far more cooperation and community building.

Phase II can then begin to lay the groundwork for new ways of seeing ourselves and our responsibilities toward one another. More to come on Phase II soon…

Let’s #EndPoverty , #EndHomelessness, & #EndMoneyBail starting by improving these four parts of our good #PublicDomainInfrastructure:

1. #libraries,

2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,

3. #UniversalHealthCare, and

4. good #publictransport

Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!!!, Walk !

#PublicDomainInfrastructure #StopSmoking for CCOVID-19 ShiraDest

May, 12020 HE

Language learning, local education, and lots of ideas

Spanish has always been my favorite language, especially after moving to the bilingual South West. Technically, I was hired for my experience in Unix which led to my MAT in mathematics, but on the ground, my love of learning languages proved to be more important in the classroom. As an adult education instructor at the Continuing Education division of the San Diego Community College District, my fluency proved helpful for many of my students, and also, of course, the ESL classes help our students from many nations contribute in the USA.

Every local educational institution has room for improvement, particularly when seen from both faculty and student perspectives. I posed some questions recently about ideas for implementing low-cost projects that would have been helpful to our students when I taught in North campus involving

1.) a small library or study area,
2.) workshops by CA Promise Program graduates, 
3.) an on-site nurse paid for by medi-Cal, and
4.) access to public transportation:

1.) Many of my students told me they didn’t have a quiet place to study.  While I know that space is in very short supply on the North campus, I wonder if a small area, possibly in the multipurpose room when it’s not being used, could be set aside with cubicles or movable small desks and a small movable lending library like the tiny libraries?

  2.)   I wonder, on the assumption of course that having graduated and started a new career as a professional with a bachelor’s degree anyone can be found who will have time, if any students having graduated with a bachelor’s degree after getting their first two years of community college paid for through the California promise program or with the San Diego promise program, could be persuaded to come back either as tutors, mentors, or even just to give workshops in the areas in which they got their educations?  Particularly accounting majors or paralegal/pre-law majors who could give small workshops on dealing with debt in California including, California statutes of limitations, or financial planning workshops or how to do your own taxes if you only need to do the 1040EZ, etc?  One-on-one tutoring, and also mentoring,  that supportive help, especially for our high school equivalency students, could be both useful and inspiring.  Seeing successfully graduated professionals with a bachelor’s degree who came through the community college system and are willing to spend individual time with them, even if only a couple of hours a week, could make a difference.  Could interns or SCORE volunteers put a program like this together?  Do we track or stay in touch with students who finish the California or San Diego promise program once they finish their bachelor’s degrees?

3.) Many of my students worked two jobs or for other reasons never had time to see a doctor even when they were ill. I wonder if it is possible to pay, through the Medi-Cal system, for a nurse to be on-site, perhaps based out of the office  of each campus, a couple of days/evenings a week?

4.)  One of the biggest problem areas that I saw for my car-free students was that neither the Continuing Education division, nor the CE faculty Union was able to get the transit authority to enforce acceptance of CE student IDs for the monthly bus and rail pass discount.  In planning for post-#Covid-19 classes, will we have any resources to address public transportation discount and access issues?

I imagine that some of these ideas may be a little overwhelming, because I understand that time and resources are extremely limited, but once in a while, as Dr. Rivera-Lacey noted: we do have to dream.

Please share your ideas for improving local education, or for supporting any other parts of our critical Public Domain Social Infrastructure!

Let’s #EndPoverty , #EndHomelessness, & #EndMoneyBail starting by improving these four parts of our good #PublicDomainInfrastructure 4:
1. #libraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare, and
4. good #publictransport
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!!!, Walk !


#PublicDomainInfrastructure #StopSmoking for CCOVID-19
ShiraDest

May, 12020 HE

How a missed trash can led to Formation Tortue, but learning languages can help treating childhood trauma

Why did that paper ball flying over my head make me dive for the floor?

Shortly after I turned 51 years of age, a young coworker launched a simple balled up bit of paper at the trash can in front of me. It missed. What I saw was not a mere bit of paper becoming litter, however. Out of the corner of my eye, something came flying at me from behind. I reacted instinctively: by ducking. Since this was not the normally appropriate behavior for a 51 year old woman in an office environment, you can well imagine my embarrassment. My coworker apologized profusely: the poor thing had simply missed a trash can with a tiny bit of paper. What he saw was a reaction out of an earthquake drill. I also apologized profusely, but the damage was already done. For the rest of the day, coworkers eyed me suspiciously and slowly walked over to place their trash in the bin. The awkwardness was palpable, and I was grateful when some of my Mexican coworkers began talking and joking in Spanish, drawing attention away from the incident.

As I sat on my afternoon break with a cup of hot water, I suddenly recalled a time I haven’t thought of in over 40 years. Another object was flying over my head from behind me, but it was not a simple bit of paper.
It was a belt buckle.
Pandemonium had broken loose as an old man bellowed his wrath, and swung his belt. I was the only person in the room not running away. For some reason, I could see the old man, the belt, and the other kids in the room. All looked either furious or frightened. But it all seemed to be happening somewhere else, with me simply frozen in place. The sounds were there, but muted as if in an old fashioned film.

It suddenly hit me that this event was from a time that I had worked very hard to forget. I’d been 9 years old, in the house overnight of a babysitter who was rather negligent. I told my mother, yet she did nothing. So, I forgot. But I never knew why objects flying over my head made me panic; until today.

Spanish, in particular Mexican Spanish, has always been my favorite language to switch into when I need to move my thoughts out of English. As a child, I’d always wished that I had magical powers to allow me to fight, or that I had a fairy sister to defend me, but the reality was that I was thrown back upon my own resources, so hiding or being ready to run usually seemed to be my best option. Hiding from my own thoughts was fairly easily accomplished, even in my dreams at times, by singing or thinking in Spanish.

It turned out that I could not hide from myself indefinitely. Things we’d rather not remember have a way of springing up, in the end. As I began to get therapy for events from my childhood it turned out that hiding and forgetting was not an effective way of dealing with those events. I had to relive them, again. This was probably more frustrating for my therapists than it even was for me, as I was told again and again that pushing away the memories would only make my #C-PTSD worse. But the focus on just being functional made it easy to ignore, once I was back in a job where I could pour my time and attention into something complex. (This 13-26 week cap that Medicaid puts on the number of sessions is yet another reason that we need full #UniversalHealthCare for everyone. Complex cases of many illnesses require long-term therapy that, when covered, will make for a healthier work force and population, not just the functional-to-panic-back-to-functionality roller coaster that kills so much time and so many people, in the end…)

The final straw arrived when the regional economy took a dive, sending myself and the vast majority of people I knew out of work. Some went to California, and I went overseas for work. In a new country and environment, stress flared up, and so did my panic anxiety. But this time I had to talk to a therapist in a language I was only just beginning to learn. As it turned out, I was finally able to access a good bit of the emotional content, while remaining present and able to stem the tide of anxiety during each session. As we began to unpack more of the childhood memories I’d been avoiding, being forced to express myself in a language I was still learning appeared to keep me emotionally distanced enough to prevent being pulled completely into the pain of the original event. When I came back to the USA, I found in California that having a Mexican therapist allowed us to switch from my native English, which was required to access the full emotion of the memory, into Spanish. So when she needed to lower the intensity level of the session, but keep me in the memory, she would switch into Spanish, distancing me just enough from the experience to process it. Who would have thought that #learning a #language could help in this case? But, it did.

So, what would Astérix do? He’d ask the Druid Panoramix, who would say: Il faut #ArreterdeFumer tout de suite !!

Let’s #EndPoverty , #EndHomelessness ,& #EndMoneyBail starting by improving these four parts of our good #PublicDomainInfrastructure 4: (
1. #libraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare , and
4. good #publictransport )
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!!!, Walk !


#PublicDomainInfrastructure & #‎StopSmoking for COVID-19
ShiraDest

April, 12020 HE

Alonso, por Omar R. La Rosa

Learning languages to read EMdT fanfic, or to get a better job (with health care): both are long-term good things, verdad?

Link and artwork used here by permission.

The image above of Alonso de Entrerríos, 16th century Spanish soldier and 21st century secret agent, is from a wonderful piece of fan fiction, written in Spanish, which is based on the series El Ministerio del Tiempo.   Learning a language gives one access not only to the joy of seeing historical settings come to life in the hands of skilled writers like the author of this serial work of fan fiction, Omar R. La Rosa, who continues to inspire “Ministericos” as dedicated followers of the series are called, but also gives one another advantage.

If you take the time,”about a year,” to learn a language that may or may not come in handy later, like Cmdr Ivanova, you too could end up commanding an elite force of future paladins dedicated to protecting the vulnerable and saving the galaxy!!  Maybe also saving the entire planet earth from COVID-19 by explaining to them in their own languages that smoking makes it worse, and why everyone needs #UniversalHealthCare! 🙂

“¡Por Santiago y por España!”
“We live for the One, we die for the One”

Let’s #EndPoverty , #EndHomelessness, & #EndMoneyBail starting by improving these four parts of our good #PublicDomainInfrastructure:
1. #libraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare , and
4. good #publictransport
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!!!, Walk !


#PublicDomainInfrastructure
ShiraDest

April, 12020 HE

Learning a language would help Hakan defeat the Virus: how? Ask the Loyal Ones…

#COVID-19’dan, nasıl kazanacayız?

How do we win against the #CoronaVirus?

Potansiyelim var.”  ==  “I have potential.”

Hakan, “The Protector” of Istanbul and of all humankind, argues that despite his lack of formal education, he has the potential to do just as well as any university-educated person, even to solve problems like a deadly virus epidemic.  And, in the end, he manages to do it.

(Hermione Granger y Amelia Folch would run to the #library to get the book Karakalem ve Bir Delikanlının Tuhaf Hikayesi by Nilüfer İpek Gökdel, to read about how one deadly virus was defeated by Hakan and the Loyal Ones, after learning Turkish, of course!)

Each and every person, Protector or not, has potential.  And every person has the human right to an opportunity to prove that potential.  But everyone needs education in order to bring out and fulfill his or her potential.   Hakan was given that education by Zeynep, his most Loyal One, but we all have a world-wide educational system that currently only works in favor of those who can either afford to pay, or have the opportunity to get scholarships.  Scholarships and education require enough stable housing to be able to study.  That requires at least enough food, clothing, and shelter to be able to concentrate or get safely to a library and concentrate for a few hours per day in safety.

Public transit often plays a crucial role in this, but this post will focus on the need for every person to have a free opportunity to gain education.  Whether it is a university education, or on-going adult education regarding consumer rights, legal rights of other kinds, like tenants rights and worker’s rights, or financial and debt-related rights, everyone needs training.  While most states do have some sort of free adult education, workshops on local laws, for example, most states do not have nearly enough resources available for all of the hard-working students who would like to attend university but cannot afford to.  I have a proposal for helping them to reach their potential, and thus helping us all to reach our fuller potential as a society.  And you don’t even need to learn #Turkish (although that will open windows on the wider world to you, should you choose to accept the challenge)!

What if every diligent student were offered free study texts and allowed to sit an entrance exam for free university studies, in exchange for the promise to help by giving back to the local community as payment for his or her studies?  For example, let everyone be given free SAT prep classes, and then, any person passing the entrance exam for university studies for free.  Suppose one passes the exam and studies accounting.  That person must first agree to teach free tax preparation courses every tax season, at least during the time he or she studies at the university.  Let everyone with a bachelors degree be given free LSAT prep courses, but then if admitted to a free Law School, agree to teach free courses on consumer rights, give free workshops on state debt laws, etc.  Let paralegal students study for free, but pledge to teach free seminars on local renters’ rights and let the MBA students study for free, but teach free seminars on investment and business planning or small business marketing planning in the local area, while studying for that free Master’s degree.

Meanwhile, remember: “Bu bir masal değil.”  “This is not a fairy tale.”

So, #LearnALanguage, compare the studies in various languages, and #StopSmoking!!

Let’s #EndPoverty, #EndHomelessness, & #EndMoneyBail while  improving these four parts of our good #PublicDomainInfrastructure:
1. #libraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare , and
4. good #publictransport
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!!!, Walk !


#PublicDomainInfrastructure and #languagelearn,
ShiraDest

April, 12020 HE