Every Tuesday, I participate in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here.
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Last year, a new family with a third-grade girl moved in at the end of the culdesac. We were playing basketball in the driveway and she came over to play with us. Despite knowing very little English, she wasn't shy in joining in our game.
That first day, I did learn her name but that was about it. Nonetheless, we were able to play basketball, taking shots, passing the ball, laughing when we missed.
We didn't see our friend much during the winter because it was really super freezing this winter and we didn't even play outside much even when there was snow.
But now that the weather is warm again (finally), we've been playing outside and our end-of-the-culdesac friend came over on Saturday when we were playing outside. This time we were playing a ring toss game and as we played, I started asking her some simple questions and she was able to answer. She's definitely learned more English since she knew in the fall.
She told me she was from Ukraine and she had a dog and a cat there. I asked her if she missed Ukraine - I had to rephrase this question to ask if she was sad when she was here instead of in Ukraine. But she said she is happy in both places.
And then I started asking her to teach me how she would say hello and good-bye in Ukraine. She explained that they speak Russian and I repeated the phrases she taught me. Honestly, it wasn't easy but we had fun trying. I did learned how to say
pryvit, which means hello - I have no idea if that's how you write it - but I looked it up online and I think it's close.
The next time I saw her I scrambled to remember any of the words or phrases she taught me. It was really hard to remember...but pryvit stuck with me and when I said it, her face lit up. She beamed and repeated it back to me. Maybe it wasn't perfect and I have a long way to go, but I tried and the smile on her face told me it was appreciated.
I truly don't know much about Ukraine or the language they speak. BUT through play, a smile, and listening with my heart, we have this new neighborhood friend. It's not hard to see others, to acknowledge them, to connect with them. It takes an open mind and patience, but it's possible.
Someday, if I keep practicing...I hope to be able to tell her how brave she is and how much she inspires me.