Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Playing the Parts.

Ok everyone, I'm here.  Sorry for the delay.  I've actually started teaching lessons, so it's not that I'm being lazy.  Though the fact that I've recently come across the last season of The Office probably isn't helping.  I've been going through them like it's crack cocaine.

Anyway, back to teaching.  I'm feeling more like a teacher now, which I really like.  It's a great feeling when someone sits there and listens and talks to you, and then leaves knowing a little more about something than before they came.  So far I've taught lessons on the American education system, religion in America, and New York City.  They've gone really well.  These lessons were all for 15-16 year old kids.  They were very attentive and were very interested.  They're actually pretty cute kids when they listen and ask funny/interesting questions like a kid during my NYC lesson: How big are hamburgers in America?"  So, things are going very well on the "actually doing what I'm here to do" front.  And the teachers I'm working with are great: very supportive and try to help me however they can.

For the New York City lesson, I found this story where different New Yorkers journaled about what they did during the day, just to show them what actual people that live in the city do every day.  So we read about this 8th grader, Carly.  To summarize her fascinating day, she wakes up, eats cheerios for bfast, goes to school, goes to bagel world with her friend, goes home, goes to bed.  So I had the class read the story line by line and then we talked about it afterwards.  They didn't know what a bagel was, so their teacher explained to them quickly in French what it is, and I did my best artistic rendering of a bagel on the board (complete with hole in the middle).  As soon as they saw the picture they all immediately shouted "doughnut! doughnut!"  We said that it's kind of shaped like a doughnut, but it's not sweet, and it's heavier.  So they accepted that and then we kept talking.  At the end I asked if there were any more questions and someone asked what "cheerios" are.  I said that it's a cereal you eat for breakfast that's small, round, and has a hole in it.  Easy enough, right?  False.  They shouted "Bagel!  Bagel!" and pointed to my picture on the board.  Touché kids, touché.  It was fun though.  It's cool to be the only American at school though.  Everyone says, "Hello Peter" in the hallway.  I try to respond with the less-rigid sounding, "hey guys, what's up?" and get blank stares in return.  One thing at a time, I suppose.

When I'm outside of school, however, I definitely try to blend in.  I think I'm starting to fit in better and better when I'm out on the street.  I'm really learning my way around, so I don't really need to pull out my street map as much.  That helps.  I must be doing something right with the way I dress too.  I was walking to church on Sunday and I saw these two ladies standing on the street corner walking slowly and looking around a lot.  They seemed a little lost.  I walked by them and one of them looked at me and said in a very quiet, timid voice, "umm...excuse me..."  And I, without thinking, responded in English, "Yes?"  She looked at me kind of surprised and said in an American accent, "Oh...do you speak English"  I smiled and said, "yes I do."  "Oh wow, you speak really well!"  "Umm...thanks" with a slight chuckle was my response.  I gave them directions to the Eiffel Tower and then said goodbye.  They responded with a "merci," and were off.  I still don't know if they realized I wasn't French.

This makes me wonder if I've developed some sort of accent since I've been here though.  To date, I've had one Chinese woman and two Canadians tell me I have a Canadian accent (when I speak English), and then the other day I was at the social security office and I was chatting with this lady in French, and she told me I have a German accent.  So I don't really know what to believe anymore.  I've never been told I have an accent ever in my entire life.  Except an American one.  So yeah...that's something unexpected.

Last Friday I went out with some of the other assistants to the steps of Montmartre.  We brought snacks and wine and just chatted for a while.  I only knew about half of them before going, so it was great to extend the circle, as it were.  After it got really really cold sitting on the cement steps, we headed down from the top of the city and joined a French saucisson party.  Saucisson is sausage.  Yeah.  That's just not something I understand.  You literally get some friends together, and there's about six or seven different types of sausage, and you cut off a piece, stick it on some bread, and chow down.  I don't get what it is with the French and sausage, but I went with it.  The French people there were really cool and the two groups actually mingled quite a bit.  So that was encouraging.  It remains to be seen though if I'll ever see any of those Frenchies again though.  I talked to this one girl for a while in French, she was really cool.  She's a social worker, so it was interesting to see how it's different than social work in America.  There was also this one guy I talked to who had lived in NYC for a year, so we went back and forth between English and French.  I told him if he ever wants to work on his English to give me a call.  We'll see.  (Photo courtesy of Sarah.)

Anyway, so we left there around 2 or 2:30 and I had to take the stupid night bus back home.  The bus finally came (after waiting 20 minutes) and I got on and got dropped off at the closest stop to my apartment (about a mile away).  So I had to walk back.  Luckily it had finished raining for the night, so I made the best of the long walk home by putting in my iPod and dancing down the street the whole way back.  Great end to a great day.

Ok...I need another hit of The Office.

Before I go though: Shout out to Hannah P. for the new job.  It was great catching up the other day.


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