Seeing as I am in college, and thus learning something new everyday, answering this question is like grabbing one drip of water from a fire hydrant. I'll just share with you the first thing that comes to my mind:
Tonight in my linguistics class, I realized how much Zarma I learned over the summer, and I was actually rather proud of myself. The rest of the class couldn't figure out how to use the "ng" sound in any part of the word except the end (like in "sing"), but I threw out the words "ngwaari" and "ngoya" and felt pretty darn proud of myself! I've learned to communicate in an African language, and tonight it just hit me how cool that is! Honestly, it makes me want to rattle off a couple Zarma sentences to anyone who cares to listen- I don't want to lose that skill!
Because I was feeling all cool about myself but also rather humbled because I've already forgotten the word for water, I refreshed myself on a great Zarma website and had a little throwback to the hot days of Niger summers! It's a little crazy to think that it was almost second nature at the time to speak in the African language rather than my native language while I was there just a few months ago.
Although I often say I hate that English linguistics class because the professor is extremely brilliant and challenging (she is working on creating an official dictionary for the national oral African language of Liberia... she's intense), I think that's the reason I love it. I have been challenged to think and to apply everything I've learned about different languages to the lives of my future students- and it excites me to no end to think about all the ways that the Lord could use the study of phonetics to glorify His name. Sounds cool, right? :) She is so dang hard and sometimes I want to dislike her because she has such high expectations of me, but I learn more and more every time I walk into that passionate, enthusiastic, brilliant professor's classroom. It makes me want to go out and translate a Bible or something- seriously, linguistics is so cool.
So that's something I've learned lately :) And just for old times' sake, a picture of one of those sweet (and crazy) Zarma-speaking people that I came to love in a unique way by living with her all summer:
Miss her. Praying that she'll see the Light and understand.