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This weekend in Clarkston (cultures and languages)

It is hard to explain the complex diversity of Clarkston to people who have not experienced it. But, I will try. This is a snapshot of my last day and a half in Clarkston and will hopefully highlight the languages and cultures of the people who I had the privilege of interacting with.


  • met African-American janitor at the School of the Arts and invited him to our festival (while I was loading the drums in a truck at 7:30am!)
  • arrived at the venue for our festival, and met our host there who was Deaf. signed questions and answers to him as we were getting things set up.
  • Proskuneo School of the Arts festival – a smorgasbord of cultures (Congolese, African-American, Mexican, White American, Nepali, Colombian, Burmese, Syrian) and languages (Lingala, English, Spanish, Burmese, Hindi, Nepali, Arabic, ASL)
  • while cleaning up from the festival, I passed some friends from Liberia. we waved and greeted each other. (I was at their church last Sunday!)
  • out to lunch at a restaurant run by two Eritrean friends. learned how to say “thank you” in Tigrinya: Yekeniyeley
  • during lunch a friend from a French African church came by and greeted me
  • met a man from Ghana on my trip to Home Depot for Clarkston house stuff
  • spent the rest of the evening speaking Spanish and English with my friend from Honduras who was helping us assemble our kitchen cabinets at our Clarkston house.


  • went to African church where the whole service was in a mixture of French and Lingala, but translated into English as well.
  • scripture was read in Swahili for some who were there.
  • sang a song in Lingala and another song in Ki-Swahili, French, and Lingala for the church (and watched as they were completely surprised by us white people singing in their language!)
  • after church, i piled in a church van with the church members to go visit one of the sisters who had just recently had a baby. i met people in the van from Congo, Ivory Coast, and Angola. (who knows -without looking it up online- what the common language in Angola is??)
  • while in the van, I spoke only French with a man from Ivory Coast who does not speak English. (It had been years since I had a long conversation in French. very rusty. but we communicated!)
  • learned a new praise song in French (complete with written words and a recording on my phone so I won’t forget.)
  • realized that the man from Ivory Coast had lived in Russia, and we both spoke a little Russian. so, yes. I had a conversation in Russian with a man from Ivory Coast. how awesome is that?



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