I mentioned a while back that I accepted a lateral promotion at work. My new responsibilities didn’t really kick in until the restaurant reopened a few weeks ago, and boy oh boy did I walk into a massive challenge.
I gave up my inventory responsibilities to focus on training the incoming staff. We have several online based training programs that make the process quite easy for most everything IF the new hires can read fluent English or Spanish. For those new hires who can’t… well that’s where my challenge comes in.
I have the sweetest new hire on my prep team from Ethiopia. She’s lived in the US for several years and speaks English fairly well, however I noticed she was struggling to keep up with anything that required reading. She wasn’t able to understand when special orders popped up on our pre screen, and she was struggling to comprehend which storage trays went with which product.
I realized she couldn’t read English fairly quickly, but I didn’t want to insult her and outright ask if she could read so I just observed for a few days. Eventually when it became more than obvious that she was struggling with English and she kept avoiding any written paperwork associated with our training process I pulled her aside and asked if there was a different language she was more comfortable with.
She smiled the biggest smile and explained that yes, she could read but not in English. So I set about figuring out a way to translate our training program into her native language of Amharic. It’s a language I’d never heard of before, but the alphabet is beautiful. It’s no surprise why she was struggling with our wonky blocky English letters after exploring the Amharic alphabet. lol. It’s very intricate with each small squiggle of the pen meaning a different inflection or vowel sound completely changing the definition of the word.
I printed off a training introduction for her and she almost cried. She was terrified if she expressed that she couldn’t read English she would lose her job which made me get all weepy inside too. I can understand being able to read and write the basics of a foreign language before you chose to move/live in a country. Like I get it, but people forget just how difficult English is to learn especially those of us who’ve grown up as native speakers.
There are good people out there from all over the world. If we just take the time to stop and get to know them instead of making snap judgements based on their appearance or ability to understand our crazy ass language.