Être marginal (Thursday, 2010 August 5)

August 5, 2010

French class is tiring. Did I mention that, because I failed it last time, I needed to take 20 more hours of language class, ideally by the end of this week, so I can take the test again some time "soon", probably Monday? That means on average 4 hours of language class a day. Hard to construct a sentence in any language after that point.

Language class with Hilarion isn’t so bad. I get the opportunity to crack wise, and we chat. Today we spent a lot of time talking about informatique, about the Internet, about whether it’s good or bad and why. I explained to him (successfully on the first try) that I only like things that nobody else likes, and he described me as an "être marginal", a "marginal being", which I like a lot. He meant in the sense of "always on the margins", but naturally I prefer to take it in terms of "a flaky person".

We were talking about animals and which ones I would save if I were in charge during a catastrophe and could only choose five. He remarked that I didn’t choose any animals that symbolized beauty, only animals that were useful (cows, chickens, dogs, bees, and earthworms). We went down the list, trying to find animals that symbolized beauty, and suggested the papillon, the butterfly, because it’s delicate and vulnerable. I suggested that to me the parrot was a better symbol of beauty, because not only is it as colorful, but it is also jealous and can bite you, and beauty is nothing if not dangerous. (This was one of those conversational turns that just sort of happens to you and you decide to run with it.) He seemed to appreciate the humor in that.

If we don’t pass this next language test, we get to take a "conditional swearing-in", which means we become full Volunteers with a capital V, but only on the condition that we stick around this crummy little town for another couple of weeks and finally get our language level. I told myself that if I again didn’t get the grade I needed, I’d give up and go home, but even as I said it I could feel something in my heart that was too proud to let go.

Saw myself by accident in a mirror today, for the first time in a few weeks. I look gaunt, greasy, worn. I know I’m being melodramatic. Then again, lots of volunteers say that stage was the worst part of their service.

Last day of model school today. Still need to learn how to handle 5e, and in general, the lower levels. I sent a student out today and she started crying, saying she was only asking her friend for her pen back. Hard to know what to do with that, but the good news is I wasn’t even really teaching anything, having already given up on them. Even the students who are well-behaved aren’t interested in learning anything, and at this point ("formatting of text") I can’t say I blame them. Oh well. Hopefully I’ll have more motivated classes at post (ha ha).

Got a "du courage" email from Gus. Thanks for that. Twenty-five months left. But who’s counting?

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