It has been far too long since I updated the blog! Life has been busy and hectic, but Maryam is still making waves, and we are so grateful! For now, I am enjoying spring break and having some free time to enjoy a visit from a dear friend, catch up on some much-needed sleep, and update you all.
Since the last time I posted, I have done a read aloud at my school's annual Multicultural Night, spoken at James Madison University's Symposium on Refugees, and excitedly watched the map on my Amazon Author Central account light up, displaying all the places in the U.S. that Maryam has arrived in already. I feel like a bit of a stalker, but I love tracking her movements and imagining where she might go next!
If you've read Messages From Maryam, you're well aware that Maryam and her best friend, Aila, speak Arabic and learn English upon arrival to the United States. Since Messages From Maryam is based on my students, I always found it frustrating that I couldn't communicate with them in their first language in the same way that I can with my Spanish-speaking students. When my school began offering Arabic for Educators classes, I was quick to sign up. Needless to say, I haven't been so frustrated in a long time! Trying to learn the pronunciation, grammar, and script was really challenging. It gave me a lot more sympathy for my students. Many of my students work hard all day to learn a language extremely different than their own, but just looking at this chart for an hour was enough to make my head spin!
While learning to read from right to left, practicing writing letters in a different way, and butchering the pronunciation of words was really frustrating, I'm glad I had this experience so I can better understand what it feels like to be a language learner. It can be frustrating, embarrassing, and tiring.
Enough about me! What's next for Maryam?
Over the next several weeks, my illustrator, Kendra Yoder, will be featured in publications from both of her Alma Maters, Hesston College and Eastern Mennonite University. I can't wait to see her work spotlighted in this way! I'll post links both here and on Facebook as soon as they become available. I'm also hoping to begin working on a kit of resources for teachers to use in their classrooms. The kit would include activities, worksheets, and handouts for all subjects, which could be differentiated for different ages and ability levels.
There are many things to look forward to over the next several weeks. Thank you for going on this journey with us!