Usually once per semester, International Connection (the English as a second language program at RBC) plans a “talk-a-latte” for both morning and evening sessions of classes. This is a time when all four class levels meet together for the last 30 minutes of the class time in the Clubhouse room to have coffee (hence the “latte” part) and snacks, then sit around tables in their class groups with teachers to engage in a particular topic of free discussion. The topic designated for February 14 -15 was “What do you think is the American (culture’s) view of love? What do you think is God’s view?”
After I briefly introduced the concept of Valentine’s Day, I asked them to pause and consider another point of view by watching a music video. We then watched Jason Gray’s video entitled “Remind Me Who I Am” in which many characters were shown holding signs that typified negative characteristics or characters, for example, “Anxious”, “Empty”, “I’m Angry”, “ Victim”, etc. But the crux of the song was that no matter what we think of ourselves or what others may think of us, in God’s eyes we are His “beloved”.
On our tables, in addition to sheets with the song’s lyrics, there was a list of the main vocabulary words written and defined in order to enhance understanding. For the ESL group, any time one can combine words with pictures or visuals of any kind, greater comprehension is achieved. And when one adds music, it adds yet another dimension of interest!
The five tables of students and teachers set about recapping the meaning of the video and song and the lingering question: What is God’s view of love? The word “beloved” is rarely used these days and took some time for the students to grasp – but again, the contrast to the other negative labels mentioned in the song was helpful for gaining understanding. Many of the students could relate to feeling under-valued, abused or “less-than” in this culture. Incidents of discrimination are regular occurrences to the immigrant population here in Northern Virginia. But it was the concept of being God’s “beloved” that surprised many of them. One Buddhist monk came to me and asked for clarification, “Does it mean greatly loved?” he asked. It does.
I closed the talk-a-latte sessions with a short devotional based on John 3:16 (which was made available to each student in his/her first language) and asked for those who are spiritually interested to continue the conversation with me or with their teachers. Both sessions provoked deeper questions than the usual classroom lesson plans even for the first-level students. Our prayer is that the questions will continue and that the Holy Spirit will bear fruit in our students’ lives.Tags: Susan Morinaga - Director of International Connection