The Importance of Language in Service Learning

-Naomi Johnson

Throughout my service learning with ASEC Bagatelle, I’ve learned many things. I think the most important thing I’ve learned is how to get along with people who are part of a culture that is completely different from my own. At first, I was nervous to speak to the children and coordinators at my civic service. I worried that they would think I wouldn’t be useful because I didn’t speak French fluently. However, I learned that the best way to build relationships with these people was to be true to myself. The moments where I was most comfortable with myself were the moments where I had the best interactions with others.

ASEC Bagatelle. Photo by Naomi Johnson.

ASEC Bagatelle. Photo by Naomi Johnson.

I think it has also been a collectively enriching experience. By tutoring students and discussing with the coordinators I learned to interact with both the youth and the adults. I can learn about French culture from them, and they can learn about American culture from me.

Naomi with a student at ASEC Bagatelle. Photo by Naomi Johnson.

Naomi with a student at ASEC Bagatelle. Photo by Naomi Johnson.

My time at my service learning has allowed me to experience another culture during an extended period of time. I’ve had memorable moments where I had a strong rapport with the children I worked with, in particular, when I spoke with S about race issues in the US and in France. However, for me what is more important is that fact that I feel comfortable at my civic service. I think that each time I speak to a child at my civic service, we participate in a cultural exchange. I especially like speaking to the children because they seem to have fewer preconceived notions about the world yet are very perceptive. Throughout my conversations with the others at my civic service, I realized that knowing another language can be extremely important. Without my French skills, I would never be able to have this experience at my civic service. I’ve learned that an intercultural relationship can be incredibly simple; however, it requires that an effort be made by both sides of the communication.

This entry was posted in 2 - La Une in English, 2016-03/04. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *