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Rencontres Interculturelles

Intercultural Meetings. Doesn't it look about 100 times nicer in French?

The city of Charleville-Mézières has a week a year where they celebrate cultural diversity. I have taken part in two exceptional intercultural activities so far.

Last night I went to see La Trahison or Treason in English. It was a film about two soldiers in the Algerian War versus France when they wanted their independence. The story followed this Lieutenant and a regular foot soldier through the closing of villages and moving the locals to camps. The private was of Algerian ancestry. His commanding officer didn't know what to make of it all. However, the other soldiers of French ancestry and the officers in high command suspected the private and his other Arab friends of being traitors because of their roots. They treated them poorly, and all the while these poor guys are getting it from the locals who call them swine and their "comrades" who mock and segregate them. The private asks for a transfer when it is becoming too much. The lietenant is being given directives to investigate them, etc, etc. In the end, they arrest the 4 Arab French soldiers "discreetly" and take them away on suspected charges. The last scene is of the private saying "Vive l'Algerie!" The French army, through their mistreatment, had literally turned him traitor. Kind of gives you something to think about.

Then, I got up this morning and went to an African storytelling session in the library. The storyteller was very good. I learned alot about style and formatting from his performance. Afterwards, we talked and he gave me some encouragement to continue telling stories - regardless of the audience base. If you remember, ask me to tell you the story of the man who's pants were too long or why they gorilla beats its chest or how the rooster got its colors. It is amazing to have learned these stories from someone who brings them from his own cultural heritage. He said he was disappointed he didn't know I told stories until after the session, or he would have asked me to come up and join him. Even in a foreign language, he said storytelling would get through - I'd be surprised. I think I might give it a try with one of my classes.

Afterwards, I did something multi-national; I went grocery shopping. Yum Yum. This evening I have a volleyball game in Reims. (We actually won last week for the first time this season. I hope we can do as well today.) Then, it is up early for the Croissant Sale. We took orders (the youth group) from people and we'll be delivering the croissants hot and fresh from the bakery. The kids are going to use the money to support a mission in Africa. Some of the kids want to go instead of just sending money. I guess we'll see how that works out. Then tomorrow afternoon an international bike race (not La Tour de France) but a qualifier and practice run comes through town and actually ends in the Place Ducale. After that I am going to head over to one of the other assistant's apartments to say goodbye to Léa, a German assistant, who starts school in April and so has to leave early. I'm sad we didn't really get to spend that much time together. She is an awesome person.

All the while, I am planning an American Film Festival. Of course I have been met with all kinds of resistance. However, like the Borg, I believe that resistance is futile. I will succeed. More than that, it is going to be so good they'll try to do it themselves next year. Maybe. In the mean time, I have reserved the room, set a pretty decent schedule and printed descriptions, summaries, theme lists, etc in French for the teachers and students. I am going to paper the hallways with posters (something they don't do here, so it should work out okay) and hope someone comes. If one of the first films are successful, I feel like the others will do really well - word of mouth is better than nothing. We'll see about that too I guess.

Anyway, I am super hungry and only have about an hour and a half to finish my work for the day before I have to leave for volleyball. Hugs and kisses and miss you much, love, ~Heather