Cindy Ballenger

CINDY BALLENGER:  My name is Cindy Ballenger and I’m from TURK and Graham & Parks School in Cambridge.

Well, I think um probably the beginning was uh; I was a special ed—early childhood special ed teacher and um, Haitian children were being referred to my class rather disproportionally.  I had young kids and they’d be referred with many, you know, the diagnostic work which showed that they had enormous numbers of problems, including um—it was typically—there’d by something like they have no language.  And um then they’d come to my class and—and often I would cure them and that wasn’t what my experience as a special ed teacher usually had been. I didn’t—I hadn’t been curing all that many children, but I did cure a lot of Haitian kids. So clearly there was something going on with the diagnostic work that wasn’t quite right.  Um, one kid came in with an IQ of 70 and left with one—107.  So if I could do that I could be really rich. But, obviously something wasn’t going right. So, um I had—I spoke French from high school not all that well but um I became interested in learning Creole and trying to figure out what was going on. And uh—and eventually I realized that among other things, sometimes the—the children spoke Creole but were being tested in French and that was sort of a complicated—it wasn’t just the fault of the testers, in some cases the parents would say that the children spoke French because Creole is a very low status language in Haiti and the educated upper class speaks French but um that’s perhaps only 10 percent of the population. But many people would like to think that they speak French or—at least at that point which was some 15 years ago, I think um—the sort of consciousness of the good um, strong aspects of Creole is a little higher now. But then that was one of the things that would happen and other things just seem to have to do with um cultural mismatches where um someone who was testing a child would expect the child to look him right in the face, but the child had been thought—taught that it was impolite to look at an adult right in the face. So I did get two twins who were diagnosed as autistic because they wouldn’t make eye contact.  They kept looking at the ear of the person and they were just trying to be pilot, but it wasn’t understood.  And then there were lots um of difficulties at that point with Haitian children in preschools because people didn’t know—in day care centers and preschools, because people didn’t know how to control their behavior. And that was really where I first came in, I think.  I—so I left special ed and went back to graduate school trying to understand what was going on and uh after a couple of years I missed children, so I went to this school run by the Catholic church that was just for Haitian immigrant children, thinking I would consult.  I thought I might, as a Grad student have some—something helpful to offer.  But, I went in and began talking to the director and by the time I left I was the teacher director. And—and I did speak Creole by that time. But—so then I was in a position of really having to manage their behavior and having to um teach early literacy skills.  And uh so I was really faced with um not understanding the ways in which these kids were accustomed to having their behavior managed and the kinds of experiences that they had that um—that led them to print, or led them to stories, or led them to number, all of those sort of things.

Yeah, I—children were being referred I think um sometimes because their behavior in preschools wasn’t um what the teachers expected. They um wouldn’t—they wouldn’t um behave when they were um—when the teachers spoke to them in the ways that American teachers are use to speaking to children so when we would say things like um, uh, you know, “You mustn’t do that,” don’t—“If you run in the hallway you’ll fall,” would—would actually sometimes make children laugh. It seemed, I think, very strange—I now see that it seemed quite odd to them that they were being given a reason as if—as if it were um a discussion between them and the adult as to whether or not they thought that consequent was worth um undergoing rather than just saying, “Don’t run in the hall,” “Don’t hit him,” that sort of—so their behavior would get them into trouble, they might get referred.  Sometimes their uh mothers would be—I—I would receive on the diagnostic information that the mothers were depressed and um I—I eventually realized that um—I don’t know if this is always true—I—I’m certainly not an insider to Haitian culture, but it often seems to me to be the case that um Haitian women, at least, when I meet them, they don’t smile immediately the way American women smile at everybody. You know, we—we smile just as a way to say hello and um the Haitian mothers that I met um were, you know, they would smile when they became your friend or maybe at some other later point. I’m not really sure on how it all works, but they would have a very—what looked to an American like a very blank face for quite awhile.  And we interpret that as no affect.  So uh, they’d get in trouble that way.  And then there was physical um corporal punishment also um would get the children in—referred.

Well, in Massachusetts in those days, and I think probably throughout the country to—at least a significant extent, corporal punishment uh made people very nervous and it—it was um the way that Haitian families uh dealt with behavior as it was the way families in this country dealt with behavior some—until about 30 years ago or something. But um the Haitian families didn’t hide it. It wasn’t necessarily something that they did privately.  So that um sometimes—you know, I—I remember a family who um was referred to me from the emergency room in the hospital. They brought the, I think a child in for some minor ailment but um another child had come along and wasn’t behaving and received a smack. And uh then they—the other child was referred as—as if the family were dysfunctional. 

Yeah, um I also uh—well, I wrote about this somewhere there.  I use to—I at one point co-taught a course with a friend of mine who’s Haitian and we were teaching a bunch of Haitian day care teachers um and we would sort of try—we tried to do it as a conversation between our two cultures.  And um we were trying to talk about management and this one day care teacher, Haitian woman who was being—who was interning was in the course and she was interning in an American day care center. She brought in this story. She said—um there’s a lit—there’s was a little Haitian girl who uh—I guess there was a whole crowd of Haitian kids and they wouldn’t uh—wouldn’t behave. And one little girl was staying in stairwell and wouldn’t even enter the class.  The kids were always disruptive and she was always feeling somehow responsible, but she was only an intern so she couldn’t do anything. But one day this little girl stayed in the stairwell and wouldn’t even enter the class. So, she finally could take it no longer. She went up to the director and said, “I have something I have to say to the Haitian children.”  So the director said, “OK.”  And she brought all the Haitian together, including the little kid from the stairwell and um she said, “Did your mother send you to school to st—to fight?  Did your mother send you to school to kick kids?” And the kids would say, “No.”  “Did your mother send you to school to not obey the teacher?”  And the kids would say, “No.”  And it was a very group process and it was very—it—it made a great difference evidentially to these children. Now only one kid was necessarily bad that day, the kid in the stairwell, but the whole group received sort of reminders of the reasons their mothers had sent them to school.  And, of course, this woman didn’t know the mothers, but she—she knew what the mothers wanted. And it um—I learned a great deal from that story and I think both in that I use to try to discipline the kids individually as Americans do, you know, so like if one kid—if one kid was paying attention and two weren’t I’d say, “Geraldine, what a good job your doing paying attention,” which is something we’re taught to do and Geraldine would then fall off the chair, I mean, laughing. It would make her so nervous to be singled out like that.  And that—so it was both the sort of group process ad the idea that you invoke their parents because you do know what they want.  You know, where with American kids I—I don’t know how many of you have had the experience of uh saying, “Does your mother let you put your feet on the table?”  And the American kids are likely to say, “Yes.”  You know, they’re just not use to this sort of solidarity, but the Haitian children responded to it quite well.

In—in the case of uh my children—my students, it—it began with clothes. Um, the kids would come in beautifully dressed and um I, of course wanted them in the water table and I wanted them on the playground, and I wanted us to be able to make great huge pictures on the—you know, with paint on the floor and so on. And um I did think the parents were crazy. I couldn’t under—I didn’t understand it as a rational choice, to send their children like that. Um, and I think they thought I was very incompetent because I couldn’t keep their children clean. I didn’t have any idea how to keep children that well dressed clean, who were four and five and six years old.  So it was uh—it wasn’t uh really productive encounter for awhile, until somehow I finally realize—probably somebody had to tell me that they were sending their children in so well dressed out of respect for me and respect for school. And acknowledging that and then um trying to—and then telling them that in the United States um we don’t keep them clean and it would be better if they sent them in sweats.  Uh, and I—I’m not sure that we always had a complete meeting of the minds as to why that was educationally important.  Why, you know, did they believe that, probably not? But maybe they saw it in some things that they liked. And there were always some people who um never really bought that and sent, particularly their little boys in very beautifully dressed, and the poor kids went home very ragged but—um and I, of course, had to change my way of dressing too once I understood this that I was probably looking disrespectful. Um, then there was also the issue of books. When there—there were books in the home, sometimes, but it usually the Bible and um—so that wouldn’t be available to the teacher, although it might be read and um many of the uh—a significant number of the Haitian—we think of Haiti as a Catholic country and it is, but there were um many of the immigrants are Protestants and uh the difference that that makes in my experience is they go to Bible study and the children might go too. So there’s quite a bit of literate activity where people go and read Bible stories and—and talk about Bible stories. But children have no access to—ready access to books in their hands. The school I taught in, all the other teachers were Haitian and there were children’s books, but they were kept way up high until I came. I then discovered that—so I brought them down and bought one of these nice little bookcases for the kids where I put the books and then I had an art corner where there were catalogs and scissors and paste and so on and everything was always getting mixed up. And um I was always finding my books in the art corner in danger of being cut up and sometimes my catalogs carefully shelved. And that was quite a difficult thing because to me it was so obvious which were which and so I would tell the kids, books have stories in them and so I want the books over here. And I thought I was being quite explicit. Books have stories, catalogs don’t. Uh, but one of the things I did do was leave tape recorders—a tape recorder around um sometimes and I—uh, in order to hear what the kids were talking about. And I left a tape recorder near some girls who were working with a cataloger one day and they’re opening the catalog and saying, “Look at these are you shoes.  And these are my shoes.  Let’s pretend we’re sisters.  And this bed is the bed you sleep in when you come over to my house.  And I realized that it wasn’t obvious to them that there weren’t stories in catalogs.  So no wonder my classification scheme wasn’t working.  So we had to work further on that. 

Right.  Um, I find tape recordings just absolutely invaluable. Um, my early work with Haitian children was all young kids and so it mostly had to do with things like the stories that they told um and the ways they acted in the house corner and uh, you know, things having to do with language development. Um, since then I’ve been working more around mathematics and uh science with older kids. And again, I think at—sometimes the Haitian children will appear very off topic um at first, or they’ll seem very incoherent. And I think the tape recorder is crucial in giving your self that moment afterwards to listen and um—and then by being able to do that it challenges your own view of the topic. So it’s not just that you realize, “Oh, he was on my subject,” it’s more likely that what you realize is, “Oh, that could be my subject too.  There are connections there.”  And I have uh sort of fossilized view of where the subject ends.  So this one little boy um was—he’s a 4th grader—newly literate boy who had come from Haiti, um at about nine and so hadn’t learned to read um, was involved in an activity where kids were charting motion.  So there was a chart that had um distance, movement, and speed.  And movement would be things like run, or skip, and the kids were planning trips where you could run for three steps fast and then walk slowly for one step and then crab walk or something. Um, and eventually they got into some things about acceleration and speed and time. But this little boy um instead when he was asked, “What’s movement,” he said, “Anything you do is movement, even when you’re sleeping you’re moving.”  And when he was asked, “What’s speed,” he says, “Um, the world is turning really fast so you could be going this slow, you’re going so slow, but you’re really going so fast.” So this—this is not going to fit on the chart, the way I understand the chart, but of course he’s right and he’s deeply engage in some very fundamental idea of what’s movement in a ultimate kind of case.  At the time in the classroom I thought—I did not think he um knew what we were doing. I now think he chose to talk about something he was fascinated by. He may or may not have known what we were doing, it’s not at all clear, but my obligation then is to connect his profound ideas of movement and speed with what we are doing because the charts are very narrow kind of representation I realized from him.

Well, I—I think second language children um—it’s so complicated, the sort of processes that they have to bring all the time to um understanding all the nuances that were um—that native English students are using.  I um—I remember one boy had read—read something—read a sentence for me, um in which the word recover—“Somebody recovered from an illness” and then I said to him, “What does recover mean?” And he said, “Cover again.”  And when I looked slightly—I—I think I must have given some feedback suggesting that wasn’t exactly what I meant, and he looks back at the sentence and he says, “Oh, get better.”  And I think somehow by taking—you know, he—when it was recover from illness, he knew what recover meant, but then I had sort of taken it out of context saying, “What does recover mean?”  And so now it’s not part of the sentence. And so he gives some other definition that involves his recognition that ‘re’ means again.  Um, I see all kinds of uh interesting things like that where—where children will—will um sometimes give you a meaning out of context because they think that’s what you are asking, I guess.

Um, the—the—this—in this case I was not the classroom teacher, I was—the classroom teacher asked me to come in in order to help her with two Haitian boys about whom she had some concerns. Um, it was a 3 / 4 class and both these boys had come in in 4th grade from the bilingual. So they hadn’t had 3rd grade with a group and also they’d come directly out of the bilingual. Um, so I would spend time with these kids during science activities, um during their cooperative group activities and sort of chat with them and also observe them during the large class um science lessons. Uh, and so I then chose to do some interviews with those kids and that I think was—I didn’t fully understand how much I would get from those interviews. They were—they were participators in class but not big participators. One even—the newly literate boy participated rarely.  Uh and what I found that was uh sort of striking piece of luck was that the first question I asked them was, “What have you been learning?” And I think from that they recognized—it set a context where I wasn’t asking for right answers, they knew they weren’t being tested. There were other aspects of the context that we did design so that they would know that. They knew I spoke some Creole and they knew I’d been to Haiti and we had a relationship. Um, I don’t think that would have been essential, but some sorts of connections would of um, allowed them to recognize that this was a place where they could just talk. And so then both boys, um and these were separate interviews, but both boys did sort of similar things saying, “Distance? I never knew what distance meant?  I use to think distance just meant um miles, I guess or something. But now I see distance means movement and um rolling and distance means numbers.”  And it was very striking because um both boys answered the question, “What have you been learning” by pointing to words and saying they had not known before what those words meant. And yet I’m sure they did know before what those words meant, they just—they had I—I asked this boy what—what’s—what was the dis—What’s the distance to your house?” and he said, “Five miles.” So he was—he was very competent with the word distance and probably had been for sometime, but he felt as if he had come into a whole new sphere of the meaning of this word as he was doing this study in mathematics. And uh he was actually somewhat incoherent about what this new meaning was, but you couldn’t deny his intellectual excitement about it and I—so I transcribed that interview.  So it wasn’t just a matter of having to listen to it a few times. I had to look at the words and the sentences on paper. And when I did that I could see exact—I could see that he was being very sensible and was very um thrilled to have developed some kind of new flexibility with these words.

I—I think um—I was part of a teachers researcher seminar for the years that I taught in the Haitian school and what we um—when—whenever we talk about—and we’re actually still together ad this is 10 years later, and whenever someone asks us, “What’s the most important thing you’ve learned?”  It’s interesting how everybody always says, “We learn that kids always make sense.” And we learned that from taping. It wasn’t like we knew it or um were able to just kind of uh hear it better.  I think we learned it from taping but once you know that, then I think you give kids a different kind of space so they say incoherent things or things that you don’t understand on line and instead of narrowing them by trying to give them the word you feel they’re missing or um fix the sentence a little so that it’s more what you expect, which is a very natural um part of human communication with younger people, we all tend to do that. But when you believe they’re making sense, you do less of that and move back and give them more time to elaborate until you understand something. I think it’s a matter of having more confidence. I think we find that the kids we don’t have confidence in, we don’t give them um the space to tell us what it is that’s on their mind. And once you’re able to develop confidence in some of those kids, they come to the fore in a different way.

Well, I guess um I am—you know, I—I—there’s a stance that teachers take um, I mean, and I think we’re very—we’re very quick to help a child um say what we think he means and I guess to think about what it would mean to have confidence in that—confidence in that child, maybe you have to think of yourself in relation to a friend where you’re peers.  And so they’ve said something that you don’t understand, you very much—you—it’s quite possible you would question them, but you wouldn’t be trying to repair their utterance probably in the same way. So I have found it useful um to compare my conversations with my students with conversations I might have with a friend in order to get a feel for the different structure of conversation when you think you’re in charge. And uh often I’ve tried to uh kind of move back and have conversations that at least in—in certain intellectual aspects are closer to the conversations I’d have with a friend. 

It—it may in some ways um—well, there’s another story. Um, this is actually not my classroom but um a woman I know, but it seems to me to be a very um—I learned a lot from this story myself.  Uh, so I’ll appropriate it. She was um watch—she was—the children were studying movement again, this was a 1st, 2nd grade and um the kids had been asked, “Can anything move?”  Oh, the kids developed the question um, “What can we move with our breath?”  This was something they wanted to know. What could they suck, as it were?  Not—it turned out it wasn’t blow.  So they all had straws and they were sucking things in.  And these things varied in weight and shape. And um, the—the teachers saw the variation as mostly along the level, the parameter of weight, which it essentially was. They could—they could suck in a lot of little things and then there was a kind of bigger block and a little toy racecar and a few things like that that were heavier and they weren’t able to suck those in. So they made a chart showing which things they were able to suck in and which things they weren’t. It’s this great huge chart in 1st and 2nd grade and um then she asked the kids to try and discuss what was the difference. And there were some little kids in the classroom who said it was weight. It was quite clear to them that—that some of these things were heavier. But another little boy said, “The things we can’t suck in are stronger.” And one’s first assumption—my first assumption um and I think the teacher’s was that somehow the boy lacked the word heavier.  But she didn’t give it to him and she said, “Say more about stronger.”  And he went on a bit and it was still rather hard—he—he said, “Well, they might be more rectangle and they might uh—some are softer.”  And he was adding all these different attributes.  Um, we—we weren’t—I—I don’t know how much sense she made of it on-line, I didn’t make an awful lot of sense of it on-line, but we did have the—we made a tape and a transcript then of this. And when we looked at it more closely we—we talked with a physicist who felt that the boy was working towards, not that he fully had it, but he was working towards some concept of inertia. And so when he said stronger, he had some view of the—of the heavier objects pulling back or resisting, which does fit in with a very Newtonian concept. And he was also conscious uh that the difference in shape was going to make a difference in how easy they were to uh, um to pull.  So like the—when he was talking about something being rectangle, it really wasn’t very aero—aerodynamic compared to the car which kind of had curved sides. So he was keeping many things in play, all of which were fully relevant compared to some of the other kids who really kind of reduced the situation to just aspects of weight. But by saying stronger, he kind of threw—you know, it was hard to recognize at first how um complex his concept really was.

I use to read a story to um my young kids—was one that my children had loved called, “The Three Robbers.”  It’s a um—it’s a really—it’s a wonderful um American storybook. And in this story there are these three robbers and they always um plunder people and—but one time—one night, they go to uh rob a stagecoach and there’s nobody in it but a poor orphan child who’s going to live with a very wicked aunt. And so they steal the child.  And they’re very—they’re very kind to the child and you don’t—it’s not scary—you can see the child has a very nice little bed in the robber’s den and so on, but when the robber—when the little girl wakes up in the morning, she goes and finds all their treasure chests full of stuff they’ve stolen. And she says, “What are you going to do with this?”  And the robbers have never thought of doing anything, they only rob.  They’ve never thought of stealing. So at this point they become good and um they set up a home for children who need help and, you know, they just become good, kind foster fathers, they’re called. But my Haitian children don’t believe, or didn’t believe that robbers could become good. They had a different um view of the psychology of robbers. And they didn’t accept the end of the story.  They didn’t—they—they also probably were less familiar with the sort of American or West—I don’t know—who’s trop that and innocent child can change you.  Um, and so they would—they would deny the end of the story and I thought they didn’t believe that the words could—couldn’t change.  I thought um that they had some—that they were so unfamiliar with print that they thought that they could tell the story the way they wanted to tell the story. And so whenever they told the story, the robbers stayed bad. And I thought they don’t understand about print. But um—and so I would point at it and I’d say, “Listen to this. This is what these say.”  And I’d point at the words and so on.  And eventually I realized that they knew—they knew that print was print and that the word had to be said the same way each time. They disagreed about the psychology of robbers. And the more I thought about it, I wasn’t so sure that robbers—bad robbers do change and their view of psychology challenged my own and um—and mine is now a little closer to theirs.  I think some people do change but it’s not really as simple as it seemed in this storybook. And um—and probably, particularly in their neighborhoods, there’s some bad people that uh you shouldn’t uh—you shouldn’t buy it if they say that they’ve turned good. And uh it actually sort of—I think it deepened my view of uh or it—it caused—it challenged my view of um the way we understand how somebody might—might change. 

I—I think um people who work with—with um cultural and dir—and linguistically diverse children, have to love ch—difference. You know, for those of us who um aren’t comfortable with the different ways people do things, uh I’m sure there’s lots of good places for people like that to operate, but uh I think the teachers who work with—teachers who work effectively with kids who are different just have to love the odd things that happen and uh how they kind of open up a new world for you and you realize, “Oh, the way I do it isn’t natural, it’s just the way I do it. And isn’t that interesting the way that someone else does it.” 

I think—my experience um has led me to believe that the children who aren’t doing well um are really in most cases just as smart as the children who are and it’s very um disturbing how difficult it is for us to see that in those children. Um, I think when I—when I see how well some of these kids can do, it’s just a challenge to me and a—and a tragedy, of course, at how poorly their generally doing.

It seems that um—I guess I think that our um—our view of what counts as knowledge has become uh kind of unquestionable to us. It’s under layers of assumptions. And so, for example, when that little boy said that um he couldn’t suck in the things that were stronger um, we just assume that that’s not part of what the topic is. And it’s very hard for us to get access to the ideas that he’s trying to present. Or when children tell me that um they know how a storybook ended, I didn’t, that I’m wrong, it’s hard for me to believe that um they’re making a just interpretation.  I don’t really know how to say that better.

Um, one—uh we—I was part of a group that videotaped in um some Haitian classrooms and uh—in Cambridge—bilingual classrooms and um one day one of my colleagues was visit—videotaping in one of these classrooms and the children erupted into a huge argument. One boy had taken home some sample oh of snails, I believe, and he came back and he said there were many generations, that um the snails that had babies had babies. And I think snails do reproduce fairly quickly, but some of the other children were arguing.  And there was this tremendous kind of uproar and we caught it on film.  And um we showed it then later to some other Haitian teachers who taught in the bilingual program and what they told us was that um this kind of argumentation that they heard in this classroom was argumentation that Haitian children are very good at. And you hear it on the playground, you hear it when they are arguing about soccer, you hear it on buses in Haiti among adults when they’re arguing about religion or politics, and that Haitian culture loves argumentation. But the classrooms tend to be very quiet and people hadn’t um thought, even Haitian teachers that I know, hadn’t thought of bringing that argumentation into content areas like science. When they saw it there and recognized it so uh sort of resentently, they um—a number of them did then begin to do that and uh allow spaces for their children to argue about their—their scientific work. And it’s been um—it’s been very successful and added lots of uh real energy and intellectual content to the uh science. We’ve looked closely at these arguments to see if they’re just kind of, you know, um just um criticizing each other with no basis, and that’s another good uh use for transcript. Because when you look closely you can see that these are highly logical arguments and kids are arguing from evidence and being very precise with their terms.  And we can see vocabulary even being sort of defined in this con—in this context where a particular use of a term—where the term has many different, you know, shades of meaning is being carefully honed for this particular context of argument—through argumentation.  I think we’ve shown um some of these tapes of Haitian children arguing to American teachers and um—and they sometimes are quite uncomfortable with the level of dispute. And so this is something that um—that I’m—I’m interested in. I have the feeling that uh we could all get a little more comfortable with levels of dispute, with children uh, you know, talking to each other and kind of getting excited and that we’re use to maybe two constrained a classroom um and—and that these um—these Haitian children can help us understand how to do that without—or other children.  I—I don’t—I think argumentation’s probably something that many of us know how to do, but rarely do in school. 

Argumentation would not be typical from what I understand of Haitian schools.  The schools are very um controlled and very disciplined and structured. Um, some people have said that they think that because that’s the kind of school Haitian children are use to that we should provide that for them here. And I think um—I’ve known many Haitian families who put their children in Catholic schools that—that offer that kind of uh context and they have done well. But um I think there’s no reason not to bring practices that Haitian children are good at from outside of school into the school and—and make use of it in things like science and math as well.

I think one thing we—we often think about children—immigrant children who come from families where um the parents didn’t have an opportunity to get an education, we think that their first language is not really adequate to schooling. So Haitian Creole, for example, um wasn’t until recently used in schooling even in Haiti. I think many varieties of Spanish that Mexican children speak are regarded by people who speak more educated Spanish as not adequate to schooling and that they need to sort of move up a register or something into a more academic sounding kind of talk.  I think um our experience has been that if you look closely at the every day language that the children are using, they’re making very, very din distinctions. It’s not so hard—maybe they—you know, it’s fine thing to increase your vocabulary but um that in the context of using their every day language to discuss something in science or something in mathematics, they’re able to be very precise and our view that every day language is not precise, I would challenge. And I think um being able to bring more of yourself is, of course, always an advantage so your every day language is a great resource and if it—if it seems to vary some of Castilian Spanish, I’m not sure that’s a problem.  

Well, uh learning Haitian Creole was somewhat difficult because there aren’t um—there aren’t very many courses—there really aren’t any courses. There’s one course that’s um about 10 lessons but beyond that it’s not a language that’s been taught. And I uh have learned—the other languages that I know I learned in school with books and drills and so on. So I had to do it in the other way. I had to um kind of get into conversations and try to make sense of them.  And there—there were newspapers and uh there was some written materials. I discovered how reliant I am on written materials and that uh Haitian Creole--for many people, they’re not literate in it.  When they went to school, um they did learn to read and write and French.  I am literate in Haitian Creole so I’m often the most literate person in Haitian. For example, people would ask me to write signs if they were trying to sell something in Creole.  Now I don’t speak at all that well, I—but I’m so into print that I learned to read and write better then some Haitian people.  It’s a—it’s also—it’s a whole different grammar. I mean the grammar’s quite com—quite uh non-European, I think in some ways. They mark different things.  There—there’s some question there might not be a simple past tense but that’s ah, very complicated and I’m not fully qualified to speak on it either.