We all belong.
“We may have different religions, different languages, different colours of skin, but we all belong to one human race.” – Kofi Annan, the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations.
”I was a chef but now I’m a plumber.”
“I’m a taxi driver at night.”
“I’m a stay-at-home mother with my two daughters.”
“In my home country, I was a dentist.”
-This is how one of our General English classes started this term. Our learning topic for the day was jobs. What’s your job? What do you do? The answers are wide and varied, no matter the classroom or term.
Worldwide, this week is Diversity Week – a time to reflect on the wide range of characteristics represented by individuals around the world, and celebrate our shared humanity.
We often start our Ingla lessons by saying hello to each new student. Where are you from? Who is in your family?
There’s an amazing range of answers – “I’m from Turkey. I live with my mom, my brother and cousin.” “I’m from Greece. I have three sisters.” “I lived in Argentina, Brazil and Italy. I have a wife and a son.”
Our Inglans are an amazing mix of people from a wide range of countries. As well as their families, their professions, their living situations, their backgrounds, they represent a wealth of personalities. Our quiet students contribute thoughtful opinions to a group discussion. The bubbly ones make us feel at ease and laugh throughout the lesson. Some are confident to answer quickly; others give teachers joy by consistently showing an enthusiasm in developing their language in their own way.
Not only this, our staff team are similarly diverse – English, American, Spanish, Albanian, Irish, Turkish, Maltese, Polish…. All of us are different in many ways, yet in Ingla, we are one team. Some of us love making jokes, others are happy to listen. Some like a karaoke session, others prefer a quiet chat in the pub.
Each of the team have different skills and strengths. Those who are passionate about the environment, look after our Green Ingla programme. We have some who are a whiz on social media and graphic design – they look after our regular posts and posters. Our Admin team are wonderful at looking after the logistics and individual needs of each student. And of course, our teachers are excellent at conveying different grammar points, designing engaging lessons and encouraging each learner to progress in their English capabilities.
If we were all only good at graphic design, who would help us care for the environment? Or if we were all only brilliant at administration, who would teach the grammar? Thanks to our differences, we are a great and effective team!
At Ingla, we love to welcome people from different backgrounds, different cultures, different languages. These differences enrich our life together. Vitally, the reason we are able to learn from each other, and delight in differences, is that we share a core base – we are all human.
Like Kofi Annan said: “We may have different religions, different languages, different colours of skin, but we all belong to one human race.”
Diversity is seen not only in our characters, and our backgrounds – it’s also seen in our cultures and our languages. In the world today, there are approximately 6,500 languages. In Ingla, we discover daily some of the riches of language as we translate and talk about the differences and similarities of our languages.
”Ah, I see! In my language it is….”
“Oh really? In Spanish we say it like …..”
We can see this range in our idioms, and our ways of expressing concepts too.
In English: ”He is mean and tight-fisted.” In Turkish, they say: “He has a scorpion in his wallet!” Both are talking about someone who does not like to spend money – the opposite of generous.
There is a Chinese proverb: “To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world.” This expresses something of the riches of learning a language.
When you learn a language, you don’t only learn isolated grammar, or phrases or vocabulary. You discover the history and culture from which that language emerged.
-To vanish into thin air (verb) = to completely disappear
-A green eyed monster (noun) = a jealous person
-A wild goose chase (noun) = a useless venture
These are phrases that we teach at Ingla, but they are not solo pieces of language – they connect to the past. These are phrases are thanks to William Shakespeare, a world-renowned English playwright from the late 1500’s.
“Off with his head!” = an idiom often used jokingly to express shock or disapproval. This expression points back to ancient kings and queens who could command their soliders to behead any individual whom they disliked.
Every expression in every language comes from a particular culture in history. When you learn a language, you learn a new culture! Due to our diverse cultures, we have such an array of colourful culture-rich languages.
What about how we describe the weather? Of course, what we term as ‘good weather’ is always dependant on the location. If you are in the hot Mediterranean, a thunder storm is welcome. If you are in the UK, we often prefer a sunny day!
However, in reality, we need the wide range, the mixture of weather for flowers to bloom, we need the sun and the rain. So too with our communities, our families, our countries – We need diversity for us all to thrive.
This week, as we reflect on and celebrate our diversity, let’s also rejoice in our shared humanity. We all belong.