“Pass the banana!” and Other Tales from English Conversation Group

Every once in a while, the stars align. That’s what happened back in October when my phone rang with an unknown number. Lydia, the woman on the other line, was enthusiastic: “I want to volunteer for your English Classes!” “That’s wonderful,” I told her, “Except that they don’t really exist yet. Our parents have been asking for it, but I haven’t had the capacity. But if you’re in, I’m in.”

We were in.

She recruited a handful of English Speaker volunteers (shout-out to Helen, Jane, and Chris!) from the neighborhood and I recruited a handful of English Learner parents from our programs. Lydia wasn’t afraid to break the ice at our first Conversation Group by pulling a banana out of her bag and playing “Pass the banana!” Soon everyone was laughing.

For eight weeks, as the days grew shorter and colder, parents and volunteers gathered together and spoke English. They discussed Parent-Teacher conferences, holidays, greetings, and so much more. The last week they celebrated with a potluck and parents shared their talents. One parent explained how to make egg salad-- with beets! Another demonstrated how to cut paper snowflakes. Yet another brought his guitar and serenaded the group.

The celebration, of course, would not have been complete without parents piping up, “Pass the banana!”

By Ariel Branz, Senior Parent Organizer
Parent Conversation Groups start up again at the end of January- contact Ariel at ariel@ssypboston.org to get involved!