Wednesday is momentous! We take our first step to create a bilingual Nepali/English picture book with the Bhutanese community in Laconia and Concord, New Hampshire. I meet with Christina Emberley and Johanna Young, Lutheran Social Services ESOL teachers. Most of their students are from Bhutan. We look at The Lion's Share by Qayb Libaax. We also look at other books created by the Minnesota Humanities Center that feature bilingual Somali/English and Hmong/English stories. Hmong and Somali people make up large numbers of Minnesota's immigrants. I ask if they'd be interested in working on a similar project with me at the New Hampshire Humanities Council with NH's largest immigrant group, Bhutanese. A small smile comes on Christina's lips. "Yes!" That's great because Christina speaks Hindi, one of the languages these refugees speak. Their mother tongue is Nepali. "I love children's books," she also says. I already suspect Johanna will be interested because she is a poet herself and inspires her students to write. Pictured above is Johanna with one her students, Bishnu, who is reading a poem he wrote in a Connections reading and discussion program.
Johanna and Christina mention a man who is a scholar working at the Laconia Walmart who they think would like to help. With the teachers' knowledge of the Bhutanese communities in their two cities, we make our first list of Bhutanese teachers and artists and writers to invite as members of the editorial board for this as yet unborn book.
I'll follow our steps - from this very first one - here on The Elephant Rag.