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Lil' Kiddies

I've been volunteering at on organization called Dar Shebeb for three weeks now. Most of the other students in the program teach English or French classes. But Uchenna, Byron and I have a completely different role.

We get to play games for two hours.

Yup. That's our job description.

I get to laugh and play and have fun with 7-13 year olds every week.

The first two weeks there was a Moroccan helping us with translating game instructions, if need be. But Byron and I enjoyed plunging ahead and trying to get the game across in our Arabic. This last week, there was no such safety-net to fall back on when it was obvious that instructions weren't being conveyed correctly.

We have a couple of staple games that include Ninja, musical chairs and Red Light, Green Light. We play these every week and I love trying to come up with new games every week as well.

This last week I was struck by how funny we must sound. First of all, we speak using mostly Fus-ha, when the kids speak mostly Derija. Secondly, I speak and then think. And third, the words we know are pretty formal for playground kinds of settings.

So, we try to explain that in musical chairs you can't touch the chairs before the "music" (us clapping and shouting) stops. Byron comes up with the exact term for "touch" and I can't think of anything but, "It is prohibited." Yeah, that's right. They better not touch the chairs.

Through volunteering I've realized that there are some words I really need to learn:

  • Stop
  • Rules
  • You win
  • You lose
  • You're out
  • Can't...
  • No pushing!
  • Time out

I love the little kiddies and it might be the highlight of my week. We explain games and then they run up to us and go off in full-speed Derija, expecting us to understand. I usually shrug my shoulders and say, "Mafahimtsh."

Oh, story of my life.

I don't understand.


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