Interview With Chloe Rudinoff, New FASPS Educational Assistant This Year

This interview was recorded on October 23, 2019.

Lia: How did you come to work at FASPS?

Chloe: I had a dance rehearsal in West Seattle a few months back, and the rehearsal got cancelled, so I went to Lincoln Park while I was in the area. FASPS was having their open house picnic for new parents, and I remember walking by and thinking, “Hey, that’s pretty cool. I wonder if they have adult classes.” I’d been dabbling in French for a few years. I asked, and they said, “Well, it’s a school for kids,” and out of nowhere I asked if they were hiring because it seemed like a really friendly environment. I then went through the interview process, and, at first, when they offered me the job, I said no because I was afraid of a big full-time job in my life. I’m still pretty young, and I just moved to Seattle, so I didn’t know if I was ready for a nine-to-five with a big morning commute through a huge city twice a day; I have never lived in a city before!

Let’s just say I am very happy I followed through and took the job. So far this job has been so, what’s the word, expansive! I’ve met so many cool people, and it’s been nice to jump back into French. The last six months I’ve been focusing on modern standard Arabic, but now I’m taking a small break from Arabic to jump back into French. I really love both languages, so I’m trying to learn both of them. The fact that now I get to practice my French almost eight hours a day while getting paid is really cool.

Lia: What inspired you to learn French?

Chloe: I remember, when I was really young, I was always asking my mom if she knew any French, and all she knew was, “Parlez-vous français?” And I would ask, “Do you know anymore? What else do you know?” When I got a little older, I started watching French films. I’ve only really learned French with my phone, with apps like Babble and Duolingo. When I moved to Seattle in March, I took classes at the Alliance française for about five months, but then I decided that I would stick with Arabic; Arabic is super challenging and needed more attention. But now I work here! Back to French it is.

Lia: What drew you to learn Arabic?

Chloe: I’m a belly dancer. The dance and the music all come from the Arab world. I want to go and study in Egypt in the future, and learning the language is important for me. I have dance gigs almost every weekend, and I usually practice and drill technique before or after work. Outside of this job, who I really am is a dancer!

Lia: Wow. How did you get into that, and how long have you been doing it?

Chloe: Well, not that long. When I was 15 years old, my mother signed me up for a six-month belly dance series for teenagers. At first I was like, mom, that’s so weird, I don’t want to do that! Now, here I am. Mama knew what was best.

When I started I absolutely loved it. Not only did I love the dance form, but I loved the culture in our classes! Classes were body-positive towards us as women, and they helped us come into our own artistic expressions. So many girls, almost all girls grow up so self-conscious of their bodies. I had never experienced anything in my life that made me feel so happy to be me. I kept up with it, and by now I’ve traveled internationally for competitions, performed at big gala events, danced with live bands here in Seattle, and in the coming few weeks I’ll be going down to Portland to perform while also attending some workshops. Every weekend I have rehearsals with these two other dancers and, man, it’s go time! I’m constantly dancing. Even at work I can hardly stand still.

Lia: Where are you from?

Chloe: I’m from Hawaii. I just moved here in March.

Lia: Lucky you. What island?

Chloe: I’m from Kauai. Have you been?

Lia: Yes, two years ago. It’s unbelievably gorgeous. Were you born and raised there?

Chloe: Yes, it’s a very special place to grow up. My dad was born and raised there too, so a lot of my dad’s family is still on Kauai. The way I was raised on Kauai has to do a lot with why I am comfortable with kids. The culture I grew up with is simply, everyone is your family. You watch your neighbors’ friends’ kids because they’re your neighbors’ friends’ kids, and that’s what you do because that’s how it is.

Lia: How are you adjusting to Seattle?

Chloe: Pretty good. My mom is from Washington, and growing up we got to come and visit sometimes for the holidays, so I’m relatively familiar with Seattle. I have a lot of family out here too, and it’s very beautiful here.

Lia: Is the weather hard for you after having lived in Hawaii?

Chloe: I wouldn’t say it’s hard. I would say it’s just different and unique. A lot of people are like, “Hey, you got to watch out for the rain,” but where I’m from is literally the wettest spot on earth. It rains on Kauai more than it rains anywhere else in the world per year. Compared to Seattle, it’s a different type of rain. Here it’s a cold, lingering, soft rain for five days, but back at home it’s this really harsh intense rain that you can’t stand outside in for more than 10 seconds. The rain blasts for 15 minutes, and then it’s sunny again, and then back and forth and back and forth and so on.

Lia: You’re the educational assistant in our Tiny YPK class, which is brand new to our school this year. How is it going for you?

Chloe: TYPK is fun. It’s also kind of crazy, but something that I’ve noticed about TYPK is that because they are just a little bit younger than the rest, they don’t have their opinions like the older kids do. They stay pretty relaxed a lot of the time, which is neat. The two ladies that I work with, Rita and Déborah, are very smart, and I’m learning a lot from them; I really enjoy working with them. They make the experience a whole lot better! Overall, it’s been really good, the kids are really fun. Each child is an individual, and it’s neat to see how much they’re learning. The first two weeks were really crazy, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out. Now they’re figuring things out without us having to tell them as much. It’s very cool.

Lia: Do you speak French with them?

Chloe: As much as I can. Especially when Rita and Déborah are constantly speaking French with them, I pick up more. Although, many of the kids don’t speak French at home, so I have to speak English to a lot of them right now in order to get my message delivered.

Lia: What’s your favorite part of the day in Tiny YPK?

Chloe: I really like nap time. When they’re all starting to get ready for nap, it can be hectic, but once they cool down, it’s so sweet to see all the children become relaxed. Helping them fall asleep is just very sweet. I like when they’re outside playing and having fun with each other. Outside they can get loud and they can run freely. I love to be with them for that too.

Lia: Do you see your future in education?

Chloe: The way that I want to work in education in the future is to teach dance and musical theater. I want to hold a performing arts school for kids. Whenever I stepped into anything theater related in primary school, I felt I could be happy being myself. During the summers there was a program called “Summer Stars” where I made real friends and was my happiest. They were teaching us how to process things through our bodies and through our unique silliness.

I would especially love to teach young girls the art of belly dance in the same way that I was taught. For me it helped me grow into a young woman, and it helped me stay active in a positive way. The teacher was there asking us good questions so that we would find the right answers ourselves. I believe that young females all over the world would benefit from more programs like this. I’d also like to shine a light on Middle Eastern music, culture, and dance. What better way to educate and bring cultures together than by music and dance? So that is the dream, that is definitely the dream, to be an educator in the performing arts.

Lia: I love it. I hope you can manifest your ideas in the world. Thank you so much Chloe for talking with me today. Have a wonderful rest of your week!

Chloe: This was fun. Thank you!

Chloe Rudinoff