Thursday, June 21, 2012

International Relations

For the last week of school I got a three-day assignment. As the last week of school was only three days, I was very happy with this.

Wednesday, the last day, was a minimum day. And as per tradition, no one was doing much of anything. My lesson plan said something along the lines of "let them hang out and talk quietly". Um, okay.

Also as per tradition, all the classes were half empty.

It was the last period of the day, and the students were doing what they had done all day. They sat around and talked about random stuff. (One period they discussed the pros and cons of taking AP classes. Another they pondered what they could get away with, as in "what are they going to do, suspend us?") Then one boy had a thought. He was going to talk to the kid that no one had talked to during the school year.

There was one kid who sat kind of away from the rest of the class. That one boy explained that the other kid didn't speak English, so no one had gotten a chance to get to know him. And the boy was bound and determined to talk to the kid at least once.

So, they all pulled out their cell phones. (Okay, normally I'd have objected, but it wasn't like they were neglecting to do any work.) They pulled up Google Translate. This took forever (cell phone reception in that room was bad--I lost 20% of my cell phone's power, and I didn't even touch it), but finally they got it to come up. Then they had to figure out what dialect of Chinese the kid spoke.

As a group, they went over to the Chinese boy. First question: Where was his iPhone? He told them that his family had it. The Chinese boy then pulled out his translator.

It was kind of funny to watch. The American kids didn't know what to talk about. I suggested they ask him what he was planning to do over the summer. Then the conversation turned to siblings (the Chinese boy was an only child) and basketball.

I often wonder about the students who don't speak English, the new immigrants. It's nice to know that the other students want to include them even if they don't always know how.


  1. That is an awesome story. Too bad it took place at the end of the school year. Think of all the friends that could be had. Friendship is so precious...I sometimes think the young take it for granted.

  2. I have a feeling that if international relations were left to Google Translate, things would be a lot worse. At least it works for kids!

  3. I think it's nice they want to include people too.

    I've used the translator a few times. Pretty cool!

  4. Wow. It is sad it happened at the end of the year, but it's nice they tried to reach out!

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