Days like yesterday make it worth it. I felt like a Peace Corps Volunteer (as opposed to an expatriated IT professional), which is an incredible feeling. The day started out well, with an English club that had asked me to act as a guest speaker. I gave a brief (although simplified and stereotyped) introduction to our regions, by culture and geography, then an airport vocabulary lesson. Then the tough part came.
I wanted to do a role play of a plane trip. Players would have to go through the process of checking their baggage, going through security, boarding, and taking off. I assigned some roles (pilots, flight attendants, security, etc), and then expected the game to begin. I started, and everyone else sat there. Nobody understood that they had to actually get up and move through the stations, and that everyone would play, not just a select few. I’d explained it three times, and I could tell they were understanding the words I was saying, just not ideas behind the words. Finally, I resorted to French, got my point across, and the game began.
It turned out relatively well. Everyone spoke, and I made it a point to practice with the less confident speakers. Actually, it turned out so well, the club’s president asked me to act as the club’s advisor during the next few years. Sweet!
The club is great. It’s mostly adults (think late 20s, early 30s), with a few high schoolers thrown in (although high school is misleading, most of them are in their early 20s . . . education is a tough road in this country), and a few university students. In fact, the university club I’m taking over for a volunteer moving up North was represented as well!
Afterwards, the president and vice president took me out for a Coke, and we chatted for about half an hour (in English, of course). I think the club’s going to be fantastic, and it’s already been a great way to meet people who don’t want anything from me except a chance to practice their English.
I walked home with a smile on my face, and stopped to saluer (greet, except it’s more complex than that) everyone in my neighbourhood, and the ones I didn’t see, stopped me. I feel like I’m starting to be accepted as part of the community. That takes more time that I’ve been here, of course, but it’s a start.
And my bookshelves finally came! I spent some time getting organized, and my apartment is finally starting to look like somewhere I’m going to want to spend the next two years.
Dad, I took some pictures last night, but forgot to grab my camera on the way out the door this morning. I’ll get them up in the next day or so.