We play chess every day in the Newcomer Center and I'm going to write a longer post about that sometime. Today, however, I want to talk about another really serious game: the game of UNO. :)
Uno is a great game to teach the Newcomers. Anyone can play it and learn it quickly. It only involves vocabulary for a few numbers and colors. So even if you have zero English, you can figure it out pretty quickly.
There is something beautiful and magical about watching a table of kids from Mexico, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Sudan, Somalia, and Ethiopia play this game together.
And, of course, every experience in the Newcomer Center is also an opportunity to teach language so you will hear a lot of things like this.
"Me turn!!!." Teacher- Try: "My turn."
"You no say Uno!" Teacher: Try: "You didn't say Uno!"
"Me win!" Teacher: Try "I win." And, also try to be more gracious. :)
Sometimes they get so into it, it's almost as loud, raucous, and competitive as a soccer game. I mean, you have to SUPERVISE these Uno games or they can get out of hand.
On Friday, we played Uno in the afternoon and for several kids it was their first time. I played with a group of 5 boys. One of them arrived a few months ago and is very quiet and shy. He looked so terrified and overwhelmed for a while, but gradually he has become more comfortable. He can't say much and I often think and wonder about all the worry and emotions tied up inside of him.
I like to be kind of dramatic and tease when we play Uno, so if one of them gives me a "Draw 4" or skips me, I make my eyes get really big and I act supremely offended. Sometimes I mention that this may result in an F for the day. (They know I'm kidding).
Well, this boy I'm talking about really got a kick out of this and the whole experience of the game. I saw him really laugh hard for the first time. His eyes lit up; the worry was erased. His whole face crinkled into a huge smile and his face looked so bright, alive, and happy. He smiled and laughed. And it was MAGIC. PURE MAGIC.