Soggy Paris – Day 10

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

There's a city out there... somewhere!

There’s a city out there… somewhere!

– “You’re a French teacher. You brought students to France. Oh, how wonderful.”

– “Oh, no, not at all. It’s the students who brought me.”

This is a pretty typical conversation I’ve been having with people recently. And usually ends right there, with me chuckling. For everyone else, this distinction about who brought who might seem a strange detail, a joke, or some weird quark of my personality; however I find this language shift is a more accurate description of the truth.

I truly believe what makes this program so special is that these courageous young people step outside their homes, habits, comfort zones, language patterns and expressions.  They are forced to lean in, pay attention, consider others first, take initiative.  As one student put it earlier, during the homestay they had to “try so hard.”

In learning an entirely new language, we inevitably learn new vocabulary, expressions, grammar.  For example, before conjugating a verb we need to be able to identify the who or what that is actually doing the action.

To say the equivalent of “I miss you” in French, the subject of the sentence flips from “I” to “you.”  The French say, “tu me manques.”  Huh?  What?  Weird. Who(m) is missing who(m)?  Over time, I’ve begun to actually think differently about this lacking sensation, this thinking of someone that is absent, this wishing they were here, now.  Instead of saying that I miss people, I actually feel that they are missing from me.  Recently, I’ve wanted to express that sentiment to my loved ones, for “I miss you” just doesn’t seem to cover it anymore.

Translating, especially using computers, is to apply a blunt instrument. One that covers, ignores, negates, the beautiful subtleties, nuances of tone, variations of intonations found in every single language. I for one am certainly guilty of forgetting how musical English can be.  We wield it, toss it, rely on it so closely that we forget how simply lovely it is that we can communicate at all…




Today we saw the beautiful 1,100+ beautiful stained glass scenes in the Saint Chapelle.  We tackled the 422 steps to the top of the tours of Notre Dame (and the strange claustrophobia that went along with being in such a narrow, steep, endless stairwell).  And we braved the late night bus routes, in the rain, to see dusk fall upon the city of lights, and literally looked on as the Eiffel Tower began to light up.  Here are a few snapshots:

These students who’ve brought me here… their absence is really going to be noticed by me. Tout cela va me manquer quoi.

Also, this blog site doesn’t host photos very well !  I’ve barely posted two dozen but have taken over two hundred.  Check out this shutterfly. As I post this, photos are still uploading ….

by jillian nicks