There’s this place just down the street from us in Olde West Chester called Book Bums. It’s a locally owned coffee shop with a literary focus. I sort of wish I frequented it more before I was on bed rest. While I was working on my dissertation, I would occasionally grab a cup of coffee and do my work there. I’ve also participate in a book club there before. I love this place and I love that it’s so close, but I have no idea how it stays in business. They have a small cafe, free tutoring and story time for kids and book clubs that are super cheap. I would love to own a place like this, but I don’t see how it adds up. Anyway, that was off topic. I “like” Book Bums on Facebook and the other day the owner (Christy) posted this:
Where do you want to go in life?
What direction do you want to go?
What’s the farthest you can imagine going?
If you have an idea where you would like to go or be, the more likely you are of being that person!
Hmm. This made me think. Soon, I’ll be a mommy (Go me, I can say the “m” word without crying!) and I know I want to be a great mommy that raises kind, smart, hard-working, creative, well-adjusted kids. But at the same time, and actually in support of this cause, I also want to do something with my life that my kids and I would be proud of. Sometimes I want to go back to teaching K-12. Sometimes I want to get a job at the university level. Sometimes I want to start a non-profit. My idea for the non-profit has been floating around in my head since last year. Since my ESL (English as a Second Language) students are always my favorite and I can see how difficult adjusting can be, especially in suburban Cincinnati, and most especially in middle school, I want to start some kind of buddy program. I want it to be a local cultural exchange where ESL students are paired with native speakers who are interested in learning about another culture. Students get a buddy and maybe there are meetings after school once a week where the students spend half the time practicing conversation in English and the other half of the time learning the ESL student’s language or culture (I like to think of prompts and question themes for each week). Then, we’ll have field trips to a wide variety of cultural activities in the area. I want to say some “American” and some “other” cultural activities, but really they’re all American because America is made up of the “other.” That’s who we are. We could see plays, go to movies, museums, concerts, eat at lots of different restaurants and visit places of worship. When I think bigger, I think parents could also have buddies and our field trips could expand. We could visit DC and New York City and even some of the other countries that students come from. I can also see having fundraisers that includes a wide variety of good food, dancing and whatever else our little community has to offer. I’d also like to be able to help any of the families new to our community who may be in need financially. The goal of the nonprofit would include helping ESL students adjust to their new lives in a new country, but more than that it would be for our community to see how the increased diversity makes it a more enriched place. I hope to help make our community a place that celebrates our increasing diversity and can see the value of the cultural riches that exist right here in our midst.
I imagine bringing my boys to all of these events and trips and it makes me happy and proud. I also imagine that I might be able to tie this into my work in academia… but that’s for another post. I need a good name for it other than Local Cultural Exchange. I want something that reflects the fact that it’s not just about helping newcomers learn about American culture, but about native English speakers learning something about another culture (that typically makes up a good part of America that they just haven’t encountered yet). I also need a place to start. I was thinking about starting at the middle school I worked at last year because I know the ESL teacher and she’s awesome. Maybe I could start there and expand to the other middle schools and then other districts in the area… and then outside of the area. I’d also like to incorporate technology in some way. Maybe we could keep a blog? Feedback, friends?