(Me and my host family)
Tomorrow I’m going to rise with the sun and make my way to the largest farmers’ market in
I like to take with me the bag I bought at the fair trade store in Angers. It reads: "Beaucoup de petites choses, par beaucoup de petites gens, en beaucoup de petits lieux, peuvent bouleverser la face du monde." (Many small things, by many small people, in many small places, can change the world.)
The BCA group visited the Conseil Generale, the regional government branch, last Wednesday to learn about the social services of the region. A few notes:
Franceis a central government as opposed to a federal government, like the . That means that all the power rests in the hands of the central government in US Paris, and that central entity demands certain things of the regional governments; in the , the states hold the power and require certain things of the federal government. There have been recent efforts at decentralization of power. US
- Certain parts of the social services program are obligatory, required by the national government. Others are optional, formed by the initiative of the regional government.
- The CG of the Bas-Rhin region spends 400 million dollars. The population is 1 million.
- Initiatives concern: public health (especially maternal and infant), children and families, programs for handicapped persons and old people, and finally the reintegration of anyone on the margins of society to bring them back into the life of the community.
And then I went to
I just like to write that phrase. It’s true: I spent Friday afternoon in Kehl, just across the river, where things are cheaper and the ice cream is better and you can find Kindereggs are aplenty. Don’t know what a Kinderegg is? Think ‘happy meal’: it’s a toy encased in a thin chocolate egg. I’d send you all one if I could, just to make you smile. It’s an odd creation. But then again, so are happy meals.
It was truly magnificent. I’ve hardly felt so warmly received since I’ve been here. I think, when I get back to
I like meeting foreigners who speak French well
It gives me hope. I used to think that speaking French was all in the accent and, for me, putting on the accent was just like acting. I’m finding, however, that one can’t act all the time, and so even though I’m getting lots of golden stars for grammar, my accent is undeniably foreign (though not obviously American). I read somewhere in my TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) texts that sometimes people choose to retain their accents for reasons of identity: I’m not French, so why would I try to hide my nationality, which is integral to my identity? An interesting question. Another interesting question: why are we so convinced that learning English is easy, just a matter of will? You have no idea how difficult it is for me, a well-educated person with an inclination for language, having already studied French for several years, and being employed right now by the task of mastering the language…how difficult it is for me to become functionally fluent. You have no idea how easy it is to stay within an English context, to hang out with other BCA students, to go to the Irish pub, to work with other speakers of English, to rely on my friends to translate or on other to speak English. I think I’m a little more understanding of Hispanic immigrants who, generally speaking, have middle school education, work and live with other speakers of Spanish, and need to work all day every day to earn a living.
It’s hard, so very very hard to learn another language, because it’s so much more than just words. I can express myself quite well, but I have a hard time manipulating tone, being witty, communicating exactly what I want to say. And, if you know me, you know that’s what I live for.
So bravo for all those who ever master another language. You give me hope.
Autumn in the
I got to go to the
Sunday afternoon, we hiked down the mountain along the Brusche valley to the town of
It takes two to tango
No! It really does! It’s official: I’m taking tango lessons at the university. Maybe I’ll follow the tradition of a formidable