English Language Learners (ELLs) was an idea practically foreign to me. I'm a girl from white suburbia, and my definition of diversity up until college was pronouncing "mozzarella" in different ways. Within the last five years, my idea of diversity has greatly changed. Finally, I learned what diversity actually is. People bring different things to the table, and we need to learn from these things and respect each other.
Today, I was interviewing an ELL, which was part of my assignment for my class. We had to ask questions about the struggles they face regarding their language barrier and how it has impacted school work. I had the pleasure of talking to a little 5th grade girl, who spoke Indian for the first five years of her life. I asked her questions, and she was excited to answer. She thought she was cool helping a "college girl with her homework", as I put it.
One thing really struck with me, though. I asked her if she thought that her language affected her school work and her activity in the classroom. Initially, she said, "Well, kinda..." but then she thought about it. Quickly, she changed her mind. "Well, no, actually," she started. She continued to explain, very selflessly, that other students also had problems and that it wouldn't really be fair of her to complain about her struggles.
I was impressed.
A 5th grader who didn't have the world on their shoulders? Whose problems weren't the worst in the class? Who understood that everyone has difficulties to overcome? This student accepted her challenges and worked hard after school with her grandma to improve her skills of the English language. Her ability to be mature about this and reflect was truly amazing.
Kids can really surprise us.