Thursday, March 30, 2006

on marche encore

Well, I just returned from an evening with the Houville boys and two other french kids - and, I have to admit, I'm feeling rather pleased with myself. I was actually able to express myself to some abstract degree tonight...I was really part of the conversation, not simply answering questions about How do I like it? and Is it very different from Chicago?

Earlier today, I had a group of 3 BTS kids. We were talking about the greves (striking), walking to a meeting. One boy asked if he could speak to me in French. I said yes, and we continued. They all laughed at me then, because they said when I began speaking French, I started acting French as well -- in terms of linguistic mannerisms, anyway. I did the little puffs and frowns and shrugs, threw in "En fait" and "...quoi" as my interuptors, responded to explanations with "d'aaaaacord...ouaaaaaai...." I realize this is meaningless to people who haven't actually lived here, so, sorry. It's the same in the US though, when we know foreigners who struggle a bit with the language, but whom have assimilated our Americanisms into their vocabulary. I admit, it is entertaining.

More about les greves at the end, if you're interested in my opinion. God knows, I'm interested in my opinion, so I'm rather eager to give it.

These photos are from my walk on Monday. It was going to be my longest yet - around 12 miles. The whole day seemed teetering on the brink of rain, but it never gave in. In fact, it was warm; like, I wore a t-shirt and my arms got a bit pink warm.

I covered some new ground on this walk, going through a couple of forests and valleys. It was so gorgeous and amazingly that way that I simply don't know what I'll do with myself when I can't spend my free days walking through these green pastures. France has really spoiled me rotten.

This is in Miery, a village I've visited often. It's the most adorable, friendly, crumbly little old place.

Just look at this. Don't you just want to sit down and have a cup of coffee at this table, talk to your neighbors as they walk by?

Here's some more of those wildflowers. This is actually the first bunch. Coming soon are daffodils, then lily-of-the-valley, then bluebells.

So, I had gotten through 8 of my 12 miles. It was around 4:45 and I wasn't too excited for my extra hour and a half walk ahead of me. Thank god for small towns, because Bernard actually passed by me as I was walking through a town. He pulled over and we chatted. I mentioned that I thought I saw a few wild daffodils in the forest next to town. This is the best part: when I said that, his reaction was, "Well, shall we go fetch Pauline so we can all go pick them?" Uh, okay by me. I'm not one to turn down traipsing through a forest and plucking wild flowers.

So we did and it was super chouette! My daffodils are still a-bloom in my little yogurt glass, too.

Today was interesting for me to witness. In the morning, classes resumed as normal. Mid-morning there was held a meeting for all of the students. A few student representatives talked, presenting pro-striking and contre-striking. Everyone went to their next class and had a vote: 1) Do you want to ask the government to rescind the new contract? and 2) Do you want to continue the strike, which will include a blockade of the school?
All 8 of the students in my class voted yes to both. I talked to a group of BTS kids afterwards and they were pissed -- they don't have the same contract in the catering industry and, more importantly, they're doing last-minute preparations in their classes for their big final exams. If the school is blockaded (a real word?), they're screwed.
This is my main contention with the whole situation here in Poligny. I was rather impressed with how democratically the school handeled the entire situation; however, I don't think the students should have the right to bar anyone from attending their classes. If the problem was caused by the school, then by all means, protest that specific institution. This, of course, is related to the government, not the school, so I don't see any reason why classes should be prevented. It seems more and more like the [younger] students are working the situation just to get out of class a few days. Frankly, it pisses me off to think that a students would be denied access to his/her education in nearly any situation, so this does not seem like an appropriate action to take.

Of course, nobody asked me my opinion on the matter. Well, a few did, but my french isn't exactly at the "pontification" level yet...


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