My trips to Latvian Center Garezers in Three Rivers often feel like Dorothy in Oz. The sounds and sights transport me away, minus the plane ticket or crashed house. Besides the obvious language differences are the sights, symbols, and cultural artifacts. Take a stroll with me.
Daily I translate. Sometimes in my brain. Sometimes via translate.google. Sometimes itranslate on my kindle. Latvian to English. English to Latvian. Ten years ago with a dictionary in hand I would get lost in translation. Now, in mere seconds I can read Latvian School notes, family emails, or send my husband “low down” emails. You know, “hey, you got an email from so and so, and he wants to switch dezure (think church Deacon) duties next week”. Thank you Al Gore for creating the world-wide web. 😉
Today, I found another app. My son. As he was perched at the kitchen table, pouring over his Latvian homework, a light bulb went off. Words came to life and suddenly he was not just reading individual words, but sentences. The best part? He got it. He understood that attending Latvian School was about more than just learning vocab words, knowing simple responses, or mastering the polka 3 step. Despite the Sunday time crunch, homework struggle, and gas mileage, M reading to the little ones, priceless.
Some suggested reading:
Like a screaming school girl hot with Bieber fever, I too have welcomed the Olympic games with loud cheers. Not because I am a sports nut or former gymnast, but more for the pure excitement of good competition. Whether it is cheering on the underdog, hoping for a new world record, or just the edge of your seat play, I love this two-year cycle time.
This year, I have found a new love for the Olympics. Olympics through the eyes of a 6 and a 3 1/2 year old. M and E have developed Olympic fever. Thanks to Title IX, E proudly claps and focuses on all the women sports. So far her favorites to support are tennis and gymnastics. Fresh from tennis camp, yesterday she watched the Williams sisters easily defeat their opponents. E commented on why there were 2 on each side. That prompted a quick tennis lesson and a response of, “I want to play tennis too”. Her papa will be proud. At 6, M is loving the different sports and competitions. I love that he gets to watch a variety of sports and learn that there is so much out there for him to try. This summer his focus has been on swimming, so we are watching the different swimming and diving events. Exposure is the first step to being an athlete. More than that, I love the geographic lessons that the Olympics evoke. M comments when he reads USA or sees the “American flag” and then reads the opponent. This leads to conversations of “where is that” or “how far away is it?”
But more than just chants of “GO USA”, our Latvian American household enthusiastically cheers “Latvia, Latvia”. M listens and watches intently for the LAT or the Latvian flag and readies his cheer. While Latvia currently has not won a 2012 medal, there are some contenders in various sports. When the BMX events begin, we will eagerly watch Māris Štrombergs go for a Beijing gold repeat. Or maybe a medal will come home in beach volleyball. Each day we scan the tv listings for when we’ll be able to support Latvia. As the anthem goes, “Dievs, svētī Latviju” (God Bless Latvia), the homeland is important to who we are.
So tonight, with a bowl of popcorn or grapes in hand, our family will learn a little about geography, spirit of competition, and the wide world of sports. But we will learn a lot about supporting who we are, Latvian Americans. GO USA! GO LATIVA!