Language Barrier

Learning a whole new language can be pretty intimidating and challenging. For some people learning a new language is not a choice, some times it can be a means for survival. Moving to a whole new country is frightining having to adapt to a new lifestyle and culture not to mention the feeling of being lost and not being able to understand basic information.

My first encounter with a new language was when I moved to the USA at 13 years of age. Although I had my rough and shaky moments with the language, it didn’t take long for me to learn it. However, as I grew older, I took for granted my new founded language and dismissed the challenges that many in the USA have with it, especially with older people. There were many people who had spent decades living in the USA and still were not able to speak English and I could grasp my mind around that.

Until now, living in Egypt for almost 2 years and my Arabic is, I will put into words of one of my students, ” You don’t speak Arabic, you speak broken”. It’s common to think that learning a new language is the only challenge that one might have. But we are totally wrong, here are some of the challenges I’ve faced from having to learn a new language.

  • You are not yourself anymore! You are not able to make a joke, have deep intellectual conversation and express your feelings.
  • You might take certain facial expression, intonation or even some misunderstood meaning offensive. Often times when people asked me to repeat what I have said, I take it personally, as i they are mocking my Arabic, don’t ask me why that is but it happens all the time.
  • It can impact yourself esteem. When, I first started learning Arabic, I was so enthusiastic and proud of myself but as time went by there was an incident, where one person was being aggressive towards me and I was not able to defend myself, leaving me to feel useless in that situation.
  • Not everyone is nice to you during your learning journey. Many people don’t understand that you are not a local and can unintentionally contribute towards your insecurity with the language.
  • You feel isolated and incarcerated. What I mean by isolation is that you might have people around you but you are not able to make a deep connection because you can’t talk about your values, mission and build a common bond.
  • Incarcerated by your thoughts not being able to be express the right way. Sometimes you want to engage in political or philosophical topics but you can’t because your vocabulary in the new language does not allow you to.
  • Some times you just feel plain stupid. Yes, you might carry even a PhD degree but in a new language you might talk like a 3-year-old.
  • If you are in a room and everyone is talking in a foreign language at some point, you will think they are talking about you making you feel uncomfortable all the time
  • It is possible to spent years in a county and not speak the language. I used to think of this as something strange but now it’s happening to me. I try as much as possible to go places where I know someone will speak English or try to avoid situations where I would have to come out of my comfortable zone.

However, these struggles don’t even compare with the enormous amount of blessings and experiences that you will have by moving to whole different country and learning a language completely out of your comfortable zone. If I could give you advice if you are in the same situation as I am, would be to open your mind and try to be as unbiased as possible with a new culture. Don’t compare your culture with another one, just take the new culture for what it is. Try to use as much as you know from the new language in your daily life to build fluency and confidence. You will gain an enormous amount of knowledge that no books or school can provide you with.

I am not writing this post to discourage you from learning a new language or even moving to a new country. The purpose of this post is to first letting you know that if you are struggling with moving to a new country or learning a new languages and do experience some of these feelings then you are not alone. Also, another reason for this post is letting you know how some people might be feeling learning a new language that we might take for granted and how they are coping with having to move to a new country. I certainly didn’t pay much attention to this phenomenon until I myself walked in these shoes.

Let me know if you are leaving in a new country completely different from your norm. If so, do you have some struggles and what are some of them? Are you learning a new language and what is it? Comment bellow if you  have some tips for learning a new language or coping with a new culture.

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The Youth is our Future…

This is a very interesting article from Intenationa Development Journal, I went ahead and copied the article with highlighted factors that I thought were most important aspects of this read.

Take a look at the article and let me know what you think…

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Why young people are key to achieving the SDG

Young people today face considerable challenges in creating a bright future for themselves.

In high-income economies, young people’s prospects have plummeted, and there are significant concerns for their positon in the labour market and the future of their financial security. The situation is worse for young people in low-income countries, where many workers are involved in informal employment – something the ILO describes as sporadic, poorly paid and falling outside the protection of law.

Many of the global challenges to development are especially salient for children and youth. September marks the one-year anniversary of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, where world leaders established the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. The goals established that young people are a driving force for development – but only if they are provided with the skills and opportunities needed to reach their potential, support development and contribute to peace and security.

One way of doing this would be by implementing an economic citizenship strategy for children and youth. It would help national policy-makers and leading youth-serving organizations achieve many of the SDGs and sub-targets in the drive to create a viable economic and social system for the future.

What is economic citizenship?

An emerging concept in the field of development, economic citizenship refers to “economic and civic engagement to promote sustainable livelihoods, sustainable economic and financial well-being, a reduction in poverty and rights for self and others”. Ashoka, the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs, defines economic citizenship as existing inan environment where every citizen has the opportunity and the capacity to exercise his or her economic, social and cultural rights”.

Economic citizenship consists of four components: financial inclusion, financial education and social and livelihoods education.

  • Financial inclusion is access to safe, appropriate and affordable financial services.
  • Financial education includes instruction and/or materials designed to increase financial knowledge and skills.
  • Social education is the provision of knowledge and skills that improve an individual’s understanding and awareness of their rights and the rights of others. It also involves the development of life skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and interpersonal skills.
  • Livelihoods education builds one’s ability to secure a sustainable livelihood through skills assessment and a balance between developing entrepreneurial and employability skills.

Economic citizenship has the potential to improve economic and social well-being, increase economic and social engagement, enhance understanding of and respect for basic rights, reduce income and asset poverty, and lead to sustainable livelihoods for children and youth.

The link between the SDGs and economic citizenship

There are seven specific SDGs that demonstrate the clear link between economic citizenship for children and youth and the attainability of the SDGs.

SDG 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Granting access to quality, affordable and convenient financial services can contribute to eradicating extreme poverty (people living on less than $1.25 a day) and reducing the proportion of men, women, and children of all ages living in poverty (SDG 1.1 and 1.2). Financial inclusion should be supported by and integrated with financial, social and livelihood education to help children and youth accumulate savings and develop responsible financial behaviours, qualities that are useful to reducing the impact of economic shocks (SDG 1.5).

SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages

Economic condition, income, working position, education and culture are all distal determinants of health and well-being, while social education provides more understanding of rights, empathy and respect. The combination of financial inclusion and social education is also useful to ensure universal access to information and education regarding sexual health (SDG 3.7).

SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education

Financial and livelihoods education can increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and soft skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship (SDG 4.3, 4.4, 4.6). Social and financial education can help ensure all young people, both male and female, achieve literacy and numeracy (SDG 4.6).

SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empowerment for all women and girls

Providing financial access and developing financial capabilities for young women and girls builds social and economic empowerment, allowing them to take advantage of greater economic opportunities alongside their male counterparts.

SDG 8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth

The current employment situation is very critical, especially for youth, as they represent the category with the highest unemployment rate in the labour market. A lack of relevant skills and the absence of access to appropriate financial services for entrepreneurs are two common barriers to youth employment. Through livelihoods education, youth can enhance their employability, obtain sustainable livelihoods and stimulate entrepreneurial activity (SDG 8.3, 8.5, 8.6).

SDG 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

In order to create safe, resilient and sustainable settlements and cities, it is essential to include children and youth in urban development strategies. Engaging youth through financial inclusion, financial education and livelihood education makes the goal of creating sustainable and safe cities more achievable (SDG 11.3).

SDG 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies

Financial education should not be limited to simply teaching children and youth how to manage finances, but also be grounded in ethical and ecologically responsible behaviour. Social education plays an important role in steering children away from financial behaviours and attitudes that may negatively affect not only personal well-being, but also that of the wider community.

Leave no one behind

Economic citizenship is a crucial factor in the fight to eradicate poverty and reduce inequalities globally.

Each of the core components represented in the conceptual model for economic citizenship support various aspects of poverty eradication efforts individually, but in combination they offer a viable force to affect systemic change and break enduring cycles of poverty.

Achieving the 2030 agenda relies not only on setting goals, but also on a responsive approach to the voice and needs of youth. By equipping young people with skills, knowledge and confidence in their abilities, there is a real chance that global leaders can harness the potential of young people to reach the SDGs over the next 14 years. Together we can work towards creating a generation of empowered youth and support long-term sustainable development.


Written by Jeroo Billimoria, Founder, Child and Youth Finance International

Jeroo Billimoria is a pioneering social entrepreneur and the founder of several award-winning international NGOs. Her innovative approach to managing social ventures and bringing them to global scale has earned her fellowships with Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, the Skoll Foundation and the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. Billimoria founded Child and Youth Finance International in 2011.

10 Things I learned Through My “Minimalist” Journey

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It seems like Minimalism is a current trend. What is this minimalism thing anyway? For me, its more of a lifestyle reconstruction rather than a materialistic order. It’s a way of simplifying your life choices which can include many and anything depending on the individual. It’s an endless reflection on your life occurrences, mistakes and goals. In the beginning of this journey, I thought to live a minimalist life meant to buy less and control your budget to the core. Although, I think this type of lifestyle is customized to fit the individual, I realized that it is not just a black and white cut out answer. With that said, I would like to share what I have learned through this journey;

  1. De-clutter- I truly though to achieve simplicity is to use a pair of shoes to the point where not even scotch tape can safe it anymore. On the contrary, is to get rid of everything (donating, trashing or gifting) that has and will not be used anymore. It is also letting go of very old things that can not be recycled such as my pair of converse. It doesn’t mean I am not allowed to to buy anything either, by decluttering my home and closet, I allow space for new things which leads me to number;
  2. Quality vs Quantity- I used to buy things and still do sometimes that are aesthetically appealing but sometimes the quality is not that great. Or I buy something which I need immediately but end up buying the cheaper version instead. I am realizing now that being a minimalist doesn’t necessarily mean that I spend less on material things. It can also mean buying something that will last me a life time which I will have to invest the money knowing that later will compensate.
  3. Quantity- This is not just an American problem, Egyptian love to buy oversized things too. Now, instead of buying kilos of vegetables all at once to later throw most of it in the trash. I buy just a small quantity which I know will last me a week. Not only do I keep my fruits and veggies fresh, I don’t have to throw it away either. Making LISTS is also crucial at achieving a simplistic life. Writing a list of things that I need to buy not only keeps me centered, focused but it allows me budget better and saves me time.
  4. Time- On my journey to achieve this life style, I have done ridiculous things such as not buying a can opener because I think I will not used that often. However, every time I need to open a can, I have to use a sharp knife and a hammer which not only is a pain in my behind but wastes a lot of time that I do not have. Which makes me think, is time not precious enough, it doesn’t have worth? Heck ya! Time is more precious and valuable than money in my book. That is why, I am on a hunt to buy things that have multipurpose and will safe me time, like a can opener that I have yet to buy.
  5. Routine- This is so so and I stress so crucial in life! My kids need it for their own sanity and it helps them to have a little bit of control and security in their lives. This also keeps me on track of the endless things I need to do. Since it allows me to save time, I can use it reflect on my short and long term goals.
  6. Will power-One of my weaknesses is, giving up when things get hard or I think I am not able to achieve it. This flaw never allowed me to know my capabilities and capacities. I know this will be one of the hardest things to change in my life but I am determined to fight this inner demon of mine by focusing on one thing at a time, rather than 10 millions things all at once.
  7. Health- A healthy life leads to a healthy mind. Buying less junk food and investing the time to make homemade snacks have really changed my state of mind. My diet it is no where from perfect but there are things that I have been eliminating that had made a huge difference in my mood and concentration span. I am buying less junk and more veggies and vegetables. Part of my breakfast routine is to always make fresh juice with chia seeds and blend it all in. Hibiscus juice has also entered in my daily healthy habits. I buy the dry flower leaves and boil it in water. Let it sit to cool and place in on jar in the refrigerator. I have found that hibiscus juice has cleaned my urinary track and controlled my sugar level. Also, it important to eliminate things that cause stress, friend’s that are not worth your time and even a job that is not worth the money due to high chronic level of stress (as long as there is a back up plan).
  8. Patients- Letting life be! Not everything has to be planned, controlled and manipulated. There are and there will always be things in life that are unexpected, unpleasant and goals might need to put on hold but it doesn’t mean failure and does not have to lead to unhappiness.
  9. Self- I think I can speak to all the mothers when I say we often don’t make time for ourselves. But if I don’t work in my worth, what will I have to offer to others? Having time for self reflection will have a good effect on how I am as a mother, friend, wife ect. In this culture it is very hard for most woman to take their time for themselves but it is something I will defiantly squeeze in more for my self growth.
  10. Peace- For some people peace means quiet and tranquility. As for me peace is to accept the challenges and obstacles that life throws at me and being able to be at peace with these occurrences. It means not running away from life’s challenges and difficulties but rather tackle it with grace and optimism.

Moreover “minimalism” is an endless journey and ever evolving. Life, goals, dreams, they all change consequently leading towards a different meaning of minimalism. But most importantly being a minimalist is down to the individual, it doesn’t have just one meaning, you as the person definite it.

 

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