Meeting your boyfriend’s extended family is awkward enough. Not being able to eat dairy during Easter dinner with boyfriend’s family…much much worse.
Anonymous asked: How did you know you had a passion for languages? Any why Arabic in addition to Tigrinya?
Oh this is going to be long…
When I was 14 my dad and I went to Eritrea for the summer. The first day we get to the Debarwa to visit my aunts and uncles there happens to be a funeral. So my father decides it’d be really nice to leave a painfully shy 14 year old girl who knows no Tigrinya alone for 3 hours with relatives who speak no English.
It was so frustrating. They joked and laughed among themselves and I just sat there.
After 2 months of this we went back to America and I gave my dad an ultimatum - he’d help me learn Tigrinya or I’d learn something else.
After lots of hardcore Wikipedia research I decided Arabic would be an easy stepping stone to Tigrinya.
I went back to my 15 year old life, but the next summer I was 2 weeks to young for a community college Spanish intensive and I had no plans for the summer. Just by chance there was an Arabic-Chinese summer camp through a non-profit in my city.
I did the Arabic summer camp. And I was not good at all. I would say I was in the bottom half of the class. But the last week of the course I really applied myself and continued working after it all ended.
I took a year-long class after that - all the while assuming I would just jump over to Tigrinya when I felt confident that I’d learned enough Arabic.
I applied for and received a full scholarship to study abroad in Egypt (thank you State Department) for 6 months the following year.
So Tigrinya and connecting with family was postponed again.
After Egypt I decided I wanted to study politics with an emphasis on the Middle East (more specifically Islamic fundamentalism in all its forms).
I enrolled at Michigan State University. I took two years of college Arabic courses - the third year and then content courses.
At the end of my sophomore year I realized I had a choice to make. Either abandon all thought of going back to Eritrea and learning Tigrinya OR make myself complete unmarketable and get my tasera (Eritrean citizenship card).
The whole time this was happening my cousin was sending me letters from Sawa. And it killed me because I knew to stay marketable I couldn’t respond. What a shitty reason, right?
In the summer of 2012, I got another govt. scholarship to go to Morocco. It really hit me on that trip that 5 years prior I had decided to learn Arabic in order to learn Tigrinya…. And so maybe I should start actually pursuing that.
I took a semester off to entertain the idea of transferring schools, plan a trip to Eritrea and work on Tigrinya seriously.
I have been maintaining Arabic because I invested so much money and time into it, but the gains from learning Tigrinya are stories and memories of my family, my culture and my history. So, logically, it has become my priority.
I did end up going to Eritrea last summer. It was a great experience. My spoken Tigrinya is awful because I will just start speaking Arabic when I forget a word and those two languages have opposite sentence structure and similar words.
Regardless, I was able to confidently sit, listen and learn from those around me. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
Politely telling my (white) mother why calling me exotic is bad is probably the one of the most painful things I’ve done in awhile.
kaal48 asked: You have one of the most culturally interesting tumblr. And when you add ur wittiness to it, it just makes if that much sweeter. I know u didn't ask but I thought you should know.
You flatter the shit out of me. Thank you.