So here is the speech that I’ve been working on for a day and half to present in my language class tomorrow morning (no notes, I have to speak it in front of the classroom):
Pe mama gazda mea o cheama Nina Covș. Ea este din statul Leușini din Moldova de vest apropriat de frontiera Română. Soțul ei Alexandu din Belarusia dar el este murit de la cancer intestinal mare deci ea locuiește singura. Nina este pensionara dar înainte de acesta ea a lucrat în clinica medicina estetica ca adminstrator.
Ea are două fiice, Natalie și Oaxana. Natalie are treizece și doi de ani și locuieste în Torino Italia cu soțul ei Domenic. Ei au trei copii. Alexandrina și Michella și Daniele. Natalie nu muncește. Domenic muncește în Elveția.
Oaxana are treizece și sașe de ani și locuieste în Torino Italia de semenea cu soțul ei Liviu. Ei au unu copil Federico. Oaxana nu muncește. Liviu muncește la Uzina Ferari.
Nina este energic și fericita. Noi suntem două prietene.
If you have any interest, copy it into Google translate (Romanian into English) and you can find out how embarassingly childish my vocabulary and grammar have become in just one week. It’s totally frustrating to have to compose such simplistic sentences, but believe me just this first grade effort is taxing me at this point. And this is after some thirty-five hours of INTENSIVE language classes in a small group of five taught by a native. We keep hearing from M25s and M26s (the groups that came in 2010 and 2011) that they now think in Romanian and translating those thoughts into English represents a concentrated effort. I’ll believe it whence I experience it…
Which causes me to reflect a bit on a topic that always surfaces during an election year (and actually seems to perenially occupy some sordid corner of the conservative media bandwagon.) All those immigrants – what to do about them? Those lazy, selfish, ignorant, greedy people who invade our country without permission to soak up our generous tax-financed social welfare benefits and spit out children on our dime. Yeah.
Let me tell you, from the perspective of someone struggling to assimilate into a culture and country where I am fully supported by a solid infrastructure of educators, administrators, doctors, accountants, IT and security personnel who all speak my language: this is NO walk in the park folks!!! Imagine finding yourself in a place where none of the road or store signs, advertisements, maps, bus routes, menus, prices, applications, billboards, newspapers or ingredients on a food label are intelligible. How would you go about finding a job? Renting an apartment? Buying your groceries? Seeking medical assistance? Enrolling your children in school? I can’t tell you how impossible all these activities seem to be to me right now, despite all the background support I enjoy. Yet there are thousands of people all over the world who brave these immense difficulties in order to better their own, their children’s, and/or their families’ lives. With no language teachers or “host families” or stipend or medical kit to help them along. I am in awe – really – of the amount of sheer bad-ass courage it would take to be in this situation on my own. I really don’t think I could do it. So my hat goes off to all those people who accomplish this, whatever the legality of their circumstances may be.
Believe me, I can’t imagine going through this experience and being the least bit lazy or ignorant; it takes too much out of you. It’s too damn hard. I am exhausted at the end of the day just trying to keep myself oriented in the environment, figure out a few words in the conversations that envelop me, memorize the layout of downtown Chisinau and my neighborhood in Stauceni. Most people who do travel to places like this insulate themselves within an American tour company or are accompanied by a friend who speaks the language or have their Google translate app loaded up to fire on the iPhone. And they know that they will be going home within a week or a month at the most. Very few people drop themselves into this sort of situation purely for pleasure.
I wish those people who mouth off about the generalized traits of illegal immigrants could have a little taste of what they experience. Whether you believe what they are doing is right or wrong, give them a heap of applause for their sheer guts and perserverance, my friends. I can only hope to succeed half as well as most of them seem to do. And perhaps entertaining the thought of finding a legal way to incorporate such strong and determined people into our culture and economy isn’t such a bad idea…