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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Travel Advice

This week I was faced with a tough decision.  Help out with organizing the guided reading library at school or....go to Paris.  Hmmm....yeah, not tough at all.  Despite my friend Jane trying to convince me that it would be a blast to hang out and organize the leveled books, my husband and I are in Paris this week!

I didn't collect any particular advice from the students on international travel--a complete lack of foresight on my part.  However, based on their previous insights and expert knowledge of world cultures, I'm sure they would surely have had lots of useful tips.
Tip # 1: If you know how to greet your classmates in Spanish class, how to reply when Senor Cody asks, "Como estas?" and how to say a couple of prayers in Hebrew, you qualify as a fluent speaker of almost all languages.  At the beginning of the year, we went around the circle at morning meeting, everyone answering the question, "Do you speak any other languages?" for our share.  Andrew's response was, "I know all of them except Chinese."  I don't know what the story is with Chinese--you'd think you'd want to just complete the set--but I'll keep this in mind to impress any Parisians we meet.  Though I suspect they'd quickly discover the truth about my claims....

Tip # 2: Not only is it a good idea to learn a foreign language yourself, but also to instruct your stuffed animals in their native language.  One morning for her share, Ella showed us her stuffed dog and informed us, "She's learning Spanish.  Chihuahuas are Spanish, so that's why I'm teaching her Spanish."  We were all impressed with this level of commitment.  If I for some reason acquire a stuffed French poodle before or during the trip, I will be sure to teach it a few handy French phrases.

Tip # 3: It is best to know at least a moderate level of a country's language in order to properly operate electronics within its borders.  Surely my last-minute cramming of how to order various things in Parisian cafes will enable me to successfully disengage the caps lock on French computers.

Tip # 4: When conversing with people from different countries, some things are universal.  Like the Beatles.  One day while walking to the field for P.E., Tyler and Jalil were discussing who was the most famous musician or band.  Tyler thought Michael Jackson, but Jalil countered with the claim that "Everyone--even if they speak French or other languages--knows the Beatles."  So if there are any awkward situations (a handshake?  Kiss on both cheeks?), just mention Ringo.

And while there were no fireworks here to celebrate it, happy Fourth!