Tuesday, May 10, 2011

“Tu n’est pas mal, toi”

Emily and I ran rather hard this morning. I couldn’t believe how fast she was going, and, of course, I had to keep up with her pace. At the end, I turned to her completely out of breath about to "tomber dans les pommes" and said, “Emily, wow, you really pushed me hard this morning.” She responded in surprise, “I was trying to keep up with you!”

At work the time speeds along so quickly, especially when there is work to be done. Today there certainly was work to be done, and the day went by in a flash as we entered in exam scores, prepared student interviews, and verified final grades for the economics and the business students. A nice plus in the workplace here is that everyone gets along pretty decently and there is no gossip, which seems so prevalent in offices elsewhere. And, did you know that we get an hour and 15 mintue lunch break?

Today during that blessed lunch hour, I came back to my room to take a powernap and read a little bit from The Rugby House Book Club (don’t ask me where or how this name was chosen and sustained for our club) summer choice: East of Eden. We chose a book that would take all summer to read, and this will do the job nicely. As I was reading, the cleaning woman, Severine, came to clean my room. She comes by once every few weeks and does the cleaning of not only our building but of each of our rooms. As I watched her clean, I told her that, at least where I was from, the students are the ones who are responsible for the cleaning of their own rooms and that I wanted to help her since I was used to doing my own cleaning. She said that being able to clean our rooms gave her a job and a task to do. I think it is good and all to provide jobs to those that want to work and need the money but I think in some ways it eliminates personal responsibilities and character building skills.

The last hour of work today, Emily and I had our first English conversation hour with a student named Hubert. We met in a classroom called “La Salle d’Espace des Langues” where you are not allowed to speak French. Emily and I have been very diligent in not speaking any English with each other, but it was a nice change when we were in the Espace des Langues speaking with Hubert in the mother tongue. Most of the students we will be meeting with in the next few weeks are preparing to apply to the “Harvards” of France for graduate studies and they have to pass an English oral exam as part of their application. Therefore, we set up times to converse with them, have them practice what it will be like in their exam, and give them an evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses. Hubert was a good sport with us as we figured out the best way to do things.

As Emily and I walked back to the Métro tonight with Lucia (a friend from Peru) after FHE tonight, we passed through a less glamorous area and were nearly run over by a group of interesting men in a fast little car. The leechy driver, as he slowed down and then zoomed by me (unfortunately, I jumped out of the way one way as my two walking buddies scooted off by the passenger side of the car ), yelled to me out the window, “Ohhhh, t’es pas mal, toi!” How charming; the best compliment of the day, by far. It reminded me of when Kristina and Mom happened to get off the Subway in Harlem, New York and some delightful young man said, “Yuuuuummy!”

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