Crossing Languages and Cultures

Volunteer Jess Bradley shares reflections from this morning…

The sun was shining this morning as the café doors opened just before 10am. The day started slowly with a small trickle of customers, the first of whom, it turned out, could speak a number of languages, his journey through life having taken him through several different countries. Talking to him inspired us to think about our own languages or linguistic repertoires. How many languages can we speak? How many can we understand? Between the four of us we had the following covered: English, Albanian, Greek, Hebrew, French, Spanish and a smattering of Italian. A multilingual crew. What do these languages say about our own lives, our own stories and our identities?


What are the languages of the café? We communicate through hot drinks, good coffee (North Star Roast) very much recommended!) and cakes, some home-made with intercepted ingredients, some donated from local businesses. There’s also the space to communicate through craft, with the Stitch-Up drop in knitting workshops taking place on the sofas in the corner of the room. Cups, plates and knitting needles act as the tools for building our conversations.


Today we saw first hand the ways in which people can communicate across cultures and languages. Two women, neither of whom could speak the other’s language and who had never met before, sat together at a table to work on a job application. Each spoke in her mother tongue, one in Czech and the other in Russian, and between them they wrote in English and completed the forms


If we stop to listen can we start to hear more?

published by Anna Dyson
Founder and Director of ToastLoveCoffee. CEO of Dyson family, Roundhay (Leeds) branch which involves a huge array of skills impossible to imagine or articulate! Formerly, Jewish educator and community professional.


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