Learning a few new languages

Some time ago, I had a go at learning some basic phrases in Welsh. However, I found that I didn’t have the time – you know how things can turn out a bit differently than you had in mind. But I’ve decided to try again. This time, I am a little less scared of the ll and the ch, and I think I’m learning the vowels a bit better this time. I can still only say basic sentences, but it’s certainly better than last time.
At basically the same time, an acquaintance of mine frome Iceland has decided to finally give in to my pleas. I want to learn Icelandic – it’s one of the languages most close to old Norse, and I find that fascinating. This chap is someone I’ve met through my video game.

I am learning Welsh sort of structured, with audio lessons and so on. Icelandic however, I’m learning mainly via typing, guessing, a bit of google translate and a few youtube vids to get a grasp of the pronounciation. It’s funny how both methods work but are so different – I hear the Welsh words. But my brain is learning the structure of Icelandic a lot faster. I love discovering a language like that.

When I was a big kid, I used to collect languages. I can read quite a few and speak a few as well altho I only properly speak 3. But it’s just such a source of enjoyment and fun to try to get into a new language – just making your own sentences for the first time, working out the rules, trying them out, waiting with bated breath for the verdict – did I just say something in a new language? Did I speak?

My Icelandic acquaintance has been laughing at me. Says I am sharp and witty even in Icelandic because after 3 days, I am able to tease him and make him giggle in his own language. Quite an achievement, he said. I told him I’d put it on my CV. 😛

What I’ve learned from playing video games

Apart from making lasting friendships with people from different countries, strengthening my language skills, getting better at problem solving and teaching myself a bit of html coding because we needed a webpage and databases because I needed a way to track my industrial efforts, what’s the best thing I’ve learned from playing video games, in my case particularly EvE online, a sci-fi strategy MMO?

EvE Online

EvE Online – Copyright CCP

I think the main thing is that in the right setting, I can do things I did not think I had the ability to do. I used to think I wasn’t a very good leader, but I ended up leading people anyway. I used to think I wasn’t very good with people, but I noticed that people would value my opinion, come to me for advice and spend hours of their free time doing things just because I asked them to. I coordinated events including many people from a lot of different nationalities, solved conflicts and probably created a few as well, because there are so many conflicting interests in these games. I stood up for my values, practiced my skills and saw real (virtual) improvement because of what I had done. I learned that I can change.

It also taught me another thing: It doesn’t matter what job you have or what social class you are, it matters what kind of person you are. I’ve worked with all kinds of people – self-employed, unemployed, managers, cleaners, students, teachers, aussies, kiwis and yanks and in a world where you don’t see each other in your physical form, either you are a nice person and people like you, or you are not a very nice person and people don’t like you. In EvE, we call our avatars ‘characters’, and that’s pretty telling. Character.

I still play, but more laid back and for an hour or two in the evening. Instead of watching television. But I’ll always carry with me this insight, that if you dare look at someone’s character instead of their appearance, you might end up very pleasantly surprised. I sure surprised myself, at least.

All’s well that ends well

Today, I had been asked to do a presentation at the local health centre in relation to the support groups I facilitate for diabetics. The local chairman for the diabetes charity had asked me to come at 3 pm, so I arranged to come in early for my volunteering at the Archive so I could leave a bit earlier.

I’m there well in advance at 2.30, not sure where the room is so I ask around, and someone is kind enough to show me there, then push me through the door with a ‘Oh, thought you didn’t start until 3!!’ and there I am in a room full of people, an angry chairman and all eyes on me, and then the nurse continues her presentation, telling everyone that ‘Stress can affect your memory’ and points at me, at which point everyone roars with laugther. I feel intensely uncomfortable, I must admit.

In a short break I double check my mails and confirm I’ve never been told anything else than ‘Turn up at 3 pm in this location’. I don’t feel particularly great at that point. Then it’s my turn to do a presentation in front of the people who’ve just laughed at me.

So I get up, plug in my USB and bring up the presentation. Look people in the eye. Breathe. Smile. And tell them how awesome it is to be me – allowed to help people like them achieve the results they want in their lives. Tell them about the concept. How they will learn from each other. How I will learn from them. How we will go on a journey together. I make them laugh. I plant my feet on the ground and just own the room. I know what I want to say.

People sign up. The other nurse in the room say it was a brilliant presentation.

I asked the chairman to not put me in that situation again. He apologised. We shook hands.

Oh well. Not one of the finest moments to begin with, but I managed to make the most of it.

Tomorrow, it’s back to the project. Naturism one. It needs some love.

Thinking Hats

The first project I did was a bit of a challenge – we were three people in the group and 2 of us worked together really well. The 3rd person was really hard to figure out, maybe in part due to their preference for smoking weed.

I wanted to try something else this time and I am working with a really nice Romanian girl – one of those people who get really enthusiastic about things. Sometimes, that can be a bit challenging for my Nordic temper, but it’s also a really interesting experience to work with someone who sees everything for the first time.

I’m 15 years older than her, you see, and I’ve seen a lot of stuff.

However, she is really happy when she can be creative and think out of the box. We had a bit of trouble getting started – there’s always a period of reading a little, talking a little and testing a little – and I really wanted to hear her opinion and preferences, but she was a bit timid. I generally tend to know what I want, but I really want people to be free to speak their mind.

What to do…

So I came up with the idea that we should fold our Thinking Hats in coloured paper. We fooled around with that for a few minutes, got all the hats made and talked about what each hat represented. For the rest of the day, she kept reminding me what hat we were using, or even that we’d forgotten them! I smiled.

The next time, the hats got delegated based on what we were best at and most comfortable with – she now has 3 of them, so when I call them, she’s boss.

I hope that will create a bit more balance. At least it got rid of the tense atmosphere and the ideas started flowing and viewpoints were exchanged in a generally calm and trusting environment.