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What a day

Today has been amazingly long. I was up at 8:30 due to my body clock only allowing me 7.5 hours of sleep each night. So, I went to the teacher's lounge and made invitations to the Thanksgiving supper I am cooking next week. I feel super bad about not being able to have everyone come and try at least a little food, but I know it isn't practical to attempt to cook for more than 15 people. Heck, fifteen might kill me. Okay, so after that, I ran back upstairs to get something (really don't remember what) and then off to teach my first class of the day.

Today's class was the best I've had yet. Their level of English was significantly lower than most of the rest of my classes, but they honestly wanted to learn, and put effort into asking me questions in return. Class today turned into a 1/2 hour discussion about why it was safe to live in the US and the reasons why terrorists target certain places. The students said that with shark attacks, hurricanes, tornados, terrorists, wasps, crocodiles (I found the last two very amusing considering they hadn't mentioned earthquakes or landslides) and people being allowed to walk around carrying guns, they didn't understand how it was safe. I tried to explain that with 8 times (I think) as much territory as France, we have alot more places where things can go wrong, but it doesn't make it unsafe. This pattern of though was unsuccessful. So I switched to something closer to home. I asked if they felt safe living in France after all the riots. They said sure, it was normal for people to get upset and bad things to happen occassionally. I think when they realized it was the same in the US, more of them were swayed to believe me.

The biggest thing to try and explain was freedom. Don't get me wrong, they have that here, but it isn't exactly the same. Seperation of church and state is significantly more drastic therefore infringing on the rights to expression of beliefs and ideas. It is the same in the community and the workplace. In a french election, no one would be asking which religion you were. Because of this, it was really important for me to explain that we were really the first country to have full freedom of rights, and that we always have had it - since the conception of our country 229 years ago. (I am, of course, glazing over slavery, civil rights, and giving women the vote - but as that didn't really happen anywhere in the world until the past century, I figured I didn't have to go that deep quite yet.)

It was amazing to listen to their opinions. Madrid, London, and the 9/11 attacks were because we were the three countries who went into Iraq. Sadly, this required some timeline work, as we didn't go to Iraq until after (and this student was not referring to Desert Storm, although she did reference Israel.) It was such a good discussion. For 15 year-olds, it was more than I was expecting. I was so impressed I was psyched up for two hours afterwards. Right up until my next class, which is by far the group that is the farthest behind of all of my students.

These girls kill me, they really do. It seems like getting them interested is impossible. We've watched Friends, we've listened to music, we've talked about their families, asked questions about the things they like, etc. Nothing. They are unable to engage, either for lack of skill or lack of interest. however, all was salvaged with my next two classes. The first was good, the second superior. The smartest group I have worked with to date. They were seriously incredible. They finished two classes worth of material in one class. I am going to have to bring a slew of material the next time I work with them just to make sure we don't run out of things to do.

I have quite a few things to do tonight, planning for my return to France after christmas and such, but for the moment, I think I am going to run back up to my room and try to find someone to hang out with for the evening. It is rather boring to spend the entire evening alone (though it wouldn't hurt to get my postcards written and all of my other work finished in advance so I could better enjoy the upcoming freedom allowed by the weekend. Tomorrow I have a really long drive - 3 hours - to a volleyball game and then, of course, 3 hours back. At an hour for warm-ups and an hour for the game and we have ourselves a bonafide 8 hour day. I have no idea what I am going to do in the car for that long!!

So, in an effort to have a productive evening, I am going to sign off now, hoping I have satisfied the thirst for details I have created in each of you (my faithful readers who know this is only a medium length blog entry) and I leave you with the hope for more in the future - just hopefully not tonight, as it will mean I was sadly unable to find better things to do. (Not that writing to you is sooo awful, but I am sure you would agree it would be a significantly more cultural experience to leave the building on a Friday night then it is to stay here and be alone with the computer.) Anyways, you know I love you. Hugs, ~Heather