How many of you actually play table games? Board games, card games, word games? At the coffee shop we play a lot of games. The children often learn to laugh about language learning while playing a game.
Here in China kids often take extra classes in English learning from small training schools. They have workbooks, tests, and levels. At the coffee shop we just relax and play games or have a conversation topic. Many who come for the first time are very nervous because they are fearful their English will be judged and found wanting. After their initial concern you can actually observe them relaxing and beginning to enjoy themselves. At the end of the evening they will excitedly tell us that they will definitely be back!
Some of our volunteers only want to have conversation pits. They don’t want to play games with the teens, who can be quite noisy and high energy. This job falls to us regulars while our wonderful volunteers make new friends around a coffee table. But lately we’ve been stretched quite thin for the game tables.
And then Dr. Mark stepped forward and asked me to teach him how to play UNO. And Skipbo, and Phase 10. Amazing. This wonderful man saw how we needed more people willing to play games with people that he moved out of his comfort zone and learned. Then on the fateful night he was asked to play UNO, he forgot how to play, so he excused himself and went to the toilet. When he returned he only had one little girl still waiting for him to play with her. He picked the only game he recognized that was easy enough to play.
Candyland. And my heart melted when I saw him across the room playing this game with a little thing that couldn’t speak any English. They learned colors and counting that night and I learned about the immense love and humbleness my husband can contain.