13 June 2006

A bientot la belle province

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Had my last night in Quebec not been mingled with the drunken sentiments of a separatist making fun of his girlfriend (and consequently her family, and me) for her federalist(e)(s) sympathies, I might have passed a seperatism-free trip. On the surface, rural Quebec is welcoming in every way. The locals are warm and willing to chat, wine flows freely, and cheese and poutine are the bonding agents of anglo-franco canadian friendship. And because I was there to learn the language, I quickly discovered that it is language that simultaneously unites and divides us.

At this aforementioned dinner party on my last night, my fumbling grasp of French became the evening's entertainment. When I would mispronounce a word, or use the wrong word (For example, "Il teind le gazon" meant "he dyes the grass", when I meant to say "il tend le gazon" as in "he cuts the grass"). Although I obligingly let them all laugh at me for some time, after a few hours, being the novelty gets old. I now know why Ali G's Borat is such a popular character. At the same time, there's no way anyone who struggles that much with a language would put themselves up for public ridicule like Borat so bravely (fictionally) does. After 3 hours I yelled "Just because I'm learning French doesn't mean I'm a child!" (in French of course).

Anyway, annoyance aside, I do believe--more than ever--that we should all put ourselves through the uncomfortable yet amazing process of learning a second language. Those who speak can start to understand others, if only through the inherent idiosyncracies of language. Sure, it's not easy, but by doing it you're working towards something that helps you be better citizen of your own country, in my opinion. Maybe it wasn't a coincidence that the trilinguals at the table were FOR a united, diverse country, when the guy who only spoke French and had barely left Jonquiere proclaimed himself as "Quebecois, not Canadian"? Just a thought.

The last week in Jonquiere was pretty relaxed. Brian and I entered a drawing contest for the program, entitled "Mon coup de cour a Jonquiere" essentially, what I love about Jonquiere. While I chose the fashion and crazy hair styles,

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Brian's design (of the giant beers and the 4 song rotation on the radio) was so successful he won the grand prize

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I really enjoyed my second host family. The food and company were awesome.
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clockwise from left: Kelly, the other student at my house; Jonathan, the host 'dad';; me (looking like a tumbleweed); and Melanie, my 20-year-old host 'mom'

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After a great last night and a nice goodbye to the friends we made, we headed back east. We met Jennie--who was on her way back from Trois-Pistoles--in Montreal, and caught up over the final 6 hour stretch of the drive.

It was a really great program and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a relaxing, educational and challenging time, and yet is willing to brave the mayonaise-laden Quebecois diet.

1 comment:

Gillian Edworthy said...

dallas... what an incredible experience...

I did the exchange back in grade 7, not even close to the age to fully appreciate it. Hearing about your experience is making me want to try it out myself...

but i have to edmit - I am leaningn towards reviving my french in France itself... I can work as an aupair there (thinking i will do this March-June, then travel)... man life after graduation is exciting! haha

the pictures are beautiful as always!
cheers dude!