FIRST THOUGHT: The Power of Language
My friend’s hubby recently spent a day communicating with her via emojis. That’s right, only emojis. When added to a statement, an emoji can deliver extra sass or sadness or, heck, even sexiness. But if you want to feel like you’re back in first grade learning to read for the first time, try understanding a particularly emoji-laden message. After a while, my friend got the hang of it. The images from her husband created a new kind of language, a visual lingo. It got me thinking about how regardless of where we come from or where we’re headed, there’s no reason why we can’t genuinely communicate with each other, even if it’s with emotional icons rather than words.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 280
Of course, understanding the intricacies of language can be a little bit more complicated than colorful ideograms. When a community is suddenly comprised of many different types of people and therefore, more than one language, it can result in unsettling feelings, confusion and chaos. During the course of a three-year study, researchers from the University of Sussex followed more than 280 refugees who came to the United Kingdom. They discovered women and teen refugees were among those who faced the most significant integration barriers.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Mursal Hedayat, Founder of Chatterbox
Mursal Hedayat experienced such a culture-shock situation firsthand. Decades ago, she and her family arrived in the U.K. from Afghanistan as refugees. And though they expected some issues while acclimating to their new home, they had no idea it would be so challenging.
Mursal’s mom was highly educated. Before she had to flee from conflict in Afghanistan, she was one of only five women in her university’s graduating class to have earned a civil-engineering degree, and had spent more than a decade working in the industry. Being a working mom of two in a war zone proved particularly difficult. That’s when Mursal’s family fled to the United Kingdom, a place of hope and refuge, but as it turns out, one that offered few employment opportunities for refugees. Gaps in these individuals’ resumes, along with various language limitations, seriously hindered their job prospects.
So, with the kind of determination she no doubt learned from her mother, Mursal eventually began brainstorming how she could change this common predicament. An idea she initially had during one such brainstorming session in her bedroom eventually led to Mursal’s super-smart online and in-person language-tutoring service, Chatterbox.
Chatterbox trains and employs refugees to teach their native languages to those interested in learning a particular language. As many know, the best way to learn a new language is by conversing often with a native speaker. Chatterbox is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn a new language, as well as for educators, organizations and companies, including Virgin, the British Red Cross and the University of Westminster, all of which utilize Chatterbox’s services.
While teaching others new languages is pretty awesome, the other really remarkable thing about Mursal’s Chatterbox is that it provides meaningful employment for refugees while also directly addressing the U.K.’s language-skills shortage, which is estimated to cost the U.K. economy an astounding 3.5 percent of the gross domestic product.
Thanks to Chatterbox, folks in the U.K. are starting to view refugees a little differently, as real assets to their community.
BBC London aired a special report about Chatterbox, emphasizing that many refugees are highly qualified professionals who held top jobs in their home countries. With nearly 120,000 refugees living in the U.K., Mursal is making a lasting and meaningful impact in these individuals’ lives.
If you want to learn how to say more than just, “Where’s the bathroom?” in another language, make sure to check out our six benefits of learning another language. Follow this link or go to www.OnTheDotWoman.com to learn all about it.
QUITE THE QUOTE
By learning another language straight from the source, your eyes open to a whole other world. As Italian film director Federico Fellini said:
“A different language is a different vision of life.”
This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.