I'm taking a little break from recounting the two weeks I traveled in March to talk about my Roma students and teach you a bit of their language.
My oldest group of students has been the most responsive when I ask about their Romani language. They are also the most rowdy with the least apparent respect which I sort of expected since some of them are my age or just a couple years younger so they are old enough to recognize the differences between us in terms of our backgrounds. And more so than the younger groups, they understand that my role is to teach them which carries the implication that they need help, an awfully hard admission to swallow. But when they saw I was genuinely interested in learning bits of their language and seeing where they live they began to trust me more and that's helped a lot. I reserved the last 15 minutes of the past few classes for them to take the chalk and teach me some Romani and they all seem to enjoy getting to play the teacher and I certainly love learning their native tongue.
Here are a few phrases I've picked up:
Sar vikine tut? (pronounced sahr' vee KEE nay too) -- What's your name?
Sar sijan? (pronounced sahr SEE yawn) -- How are you?
Fino (pronounced FEE no) -- Fine
So kere? (pronounced so KEH reh) -- What are you doing?
Now we exchange these and the English equivalents in and out of class. They especially like it when I mess up so they can correct me so I usually throw in mistakes.