I left class on Thursday feeling overwhelmed and not a little sorry for myself. I am drowning in information–new ideas, new language, new equipment, new skills… It does not help to look around and notice that no one else in the class is hyperventilating or straining to read the instructors lips in an effort to understand what is being said. It took me awhile to remember why I had scrounged up the money to take this class in the first place. But at last I did remember.
I returned to school with the goal of earning a Master’s degree in TESOL and a certificate as a literacy specialist. It is not only the ability to read signs and write checks that I hope share with my students; I want to make sure that they have the English skills necessary to tell their own stories about who they are and where they have come from and what it all means. I feel strongly about this because I know that when people cannot tell and record their own stories, others will do so for them or, even worse, decide and announce that they have no stories worth telling. When I heard about this class, I began to think that Digital Storytelling would be a wonderful set of tools to use in ESL and adult literacy classes. But first I have to learn them. So, I will.
Certainly in five weeks I will learn how to animate a GIF and how to create amusing images of, say, an elephant perching delicately and expectantly on a nest of eggs, but I think the deeper lessons that DS106 has to offer me are those of humility and compassion. For in taking this class, I am a stranger in a strange land. I am not a tech native. I am an immigrant. And I recognize that the fearfulness and frustration that I am living with as I learn the language and customs of this new land are experienced in far greater intensity by immigrants from all over the world who arrive here without English language skills.
So, I will be back in class on Monday morning. I will fumble around and I will ask for help. And at the end of five weeks I will take whatever I have learned and I will give it away and away and away.