Sunday, May 25, 2014

Only week one, and I want to learn a new language.

May 25, 2014

We are all given a toolbox when we are born, and throughout our lifetimes, we fill it with different utensils to help us build our lives.  We gain a wrench here and a hammer there, never really knowing which tool we will gain from each experience but having the courage to survey our collection of tools and build with however meager or bountiful it may be. 
French is not in my toolbox.  Since the moment I stepped off of the plane,  “eye spy” has been my favorite game and biggest asset when hunting for familiar words to decipher signs and written notices, while I implicate another popular game “mad gab” when listening to spoken words.  To tie it all together, lets just say I have become an expert in the game of charades.  Life truly is just a big game. 
But I love it.  Not knowing the language has helped me realize just how important a language really is.  I mean, if we take a step back and think about the history of humanity, language is amongst the earliest developments.  Early civilization knew oral communication was a necessary tool to build their lives.  And the fact that we still have language is a testament to its importance. 
One instance this week that really sticks out in my mind as an example of the importance of language was an improvisation competition at ENSAT, the school we are attending in Toulouse.  I had really never seen anything like it, and it might be one of the most cultural experiences I have had since arriving.  Dallas, a girl from UGA whom is a part of the same program, and I walked into a lecture hall, each seat completed with a balled up sock and a square piece of cardboard with opposite colors on each side.  As we sat down, our attention was directed to what looked like an oval wrestling ring, designating the competition vicinity.  We were both already fascinated, and the acting hadn’t even begun.  Julien, one of the French students whom speaks English very well, came and explained to us that the cardboard square was for voting and the sock was for throwing at the referee. 
Now, we all know that throwing socks does not fulfill our innermost being, nor does it bring true joy.  In that room, though, sitting with eighty other twenty-year-old students whom all consider ourselves adults, throwing socks in unison at a man in a striped shirt standing in the center of a wrestling ring made for acting was pretty close.  It was just pure fun.  And what made it fun, was that after a few rounds of the ref giving a prompt, the actors from both teams duking it out with zealous improv spirit, us voting, and more sock throwing, we still knew no French.  However, we could laugh when we were supposed to and applaud when we were supposed to all based off of the human ability to speak emotion. 
We all speak the same emotions, but what differs in these emotions are the details. Sure, Dallas and I knew what was going on in most scenarios, but we did not know what was exactly being said that could have made the scene funnier or more serious.  That is why language is the bridge to detail, which makes it necessary to learn. My time in France so far has been short, but I already know I want to learn the language.  It will add another life tool to my toolbox, and it will bridge a gap, making one more effort to create genuine correspondence between foreign places. 

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