perspicacious diversions.

For my French class, I had to compose with a partner an anthology of six poems that we later had to present to our class in an original presentation.  My partner and I decided to stage a piece of "theater" for our presentation in which I was an American living in Belgium for a year (no kidding!) who had met a Belgian and fallen in love. 

Yes, I know,  it simply screams creativity.

(Here may I add my observation that Belgians, or at least those in my class, are seemingly incapable to think "outside of the box".  The majority of them had difficulties grasping the concepts of metaphors, symbols, and allegories- all of which had been introduced to them this year. 

For example, as we were reading Edgar Allen Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death", I had noticed that the seven rooms in Prospero's palace were placed from east to west, the easternmost being the blue room (symbolizing birth, the beginning of life) and the westernmost being the black and blood red room (obviously symbolizing death).  I remarked that I loved the little detail that the rooms were placed from east to west to emphasize the symbolism since the sun rises in the east (sunrise represents beginning/birth) and sets in the west (sunset represents end/death), and  I had simply made the remark in order to give credit to the genius of Mr. Poe (as he is an American). But instead my classmates gave me all the glory, as if I were the one to write it.  I didn't write it, I simply analyzed- a simple analyzation that I'm sure most of my classmates in the US would have made right away.

Due to this,  I now crave more than ever to be intellectually challenged.  I want to surround myself with people who love to learn and with whom I can discuss life, religion, politics, and cultures.  I need to surround myself with motivated people- people who want to be, need to be challenged as much as I do.  The problem is that my school in Belgium is densely populated with slackers.  It's a "technical" school:  it was originally created for students who didn't plan to go to college after high school, but now it's more or less for people who want to follow either a very specific option (such as Science or Economics) or a unique option (Athleticism or Cuisine),  or it's for those who are having trouble in other schools and want either (a) a smaller school or (b) a school where it's much easier to slack off.

Therefore, there are a lot of students who just don't try- or at least it seems to me that they go to school with their brains shut off.  I can see the potential in these students, as they do well when they apply themselves, but they just don't try.  They don't want to learn; they're going to school to go to school: to memorize for the test, take the test, and forget.  Of course, in the United States there are a lot of students like this as well, but I just usually don't have classes with them.  Though now I've been going to school with students of the sort for a year, and the lack of motivation that they bring to the classroom is contagious.  As an exchange student, I had put myself at their level.  I had told myself it was all right that I scored badly because everyone else had.  It was all right that I hadn't done the "homework" because no one else had.  It was all right that I hadn't tried because no one else had even wanted to try.

But then I began to truly be able to work in French.  I could understand everything (and if not I always had my handy-dandy dictionary); I could write; I could read. And then I realized the absence of motivation in the classroom, and I began to crave it.

Therefore, I can say that when I became fluent in French, I began to miss school in the US.  I felt like there was something I was missing- I wanted to, needed to learn more.  By learning French, I had always been fed with knowledge- my hunger was constantly satisfied.  Though when I began to learn less of French as I had known the language, my apetite- even larger than it was before- could not be appeased. 

I began raiding the cupboards, leaving the refridgerator door hanging wide open in search for anything to fill my stomach, empty and constantly rumbling.  I bit into literature, gnawing away at it slowly so that each tastebud could learn a new word, a new taste.  I read and read, but I needed more.  I realized I needed other people with whom I could discuss what I'd read.  I wanted a classroom and opinions, hands flying into the air to open other's eyes by sharing what had been seen.

This then leads me to yet another example:  for my French class I read Servitude et Grandeur Militaires de Alfred de Vigny, a Romantic writer of the 19th century.  In the final recollections of the book, Vigny concludes that soldiers fight and die with little thought of God for they ultimately follow a different "God" which is Honor.  He goes on to say that Honor is the virtue of the life of this world, that it is a guiding light which leads one to the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.  Always and everywhere it maintains in all its beauty the individual dignity of man:  it is manly decency.  In the end, he feels that Honor should always possess such power and such beauty, and he hopes that no religion will try to suppress the sentiment.

While reading this, I couldn't help but to think of Al Qaida and other extremist groups and the fact that they have nearly the same beliefs as Vigny.  Of course, they don't follow the "religion" of Honor, but instead they abide by Honor in practice of their religion or ideology.  Vigny believes that honor is manly decency; therefore he believes himself to be decent as he abides by honor.  In the same sense, members of Al Qaida believe they are decent for they also submit themselves to honor.  However, the honor of Vigny has not the same meaning as the honor of extremists, and this displays a way in which our society has changed since the 19th century due to racial and religious separations.  Vigny hopes that no religion will try to suppress the sentiment of honor, but what he should in fact hope is that no religion should alter the definiton of honor.

Nonetheless, as I read, I wanted more than anything to express these ideas with the class, have a group discussion where we could exchange point of views and opinions.   I wanted to be in my school in the US, or at least any school that challenged me.

I've now realized how much I've digressed.. Did you realize this was all in parenthesis?  Well with that said I'm getting off this train and hopping onto the right one.  Parenthèses terminées! )

So my Belgian friend and I acted out our presentation, for which I had to memorize three poems that I would like to share here (which was my primary objective for writing this post).  But I'm going to post them after this or else this is going to be horrifically long...  I'd be surprised if there's actually someone still reading this.  (Click the smiley face below if you are, just to satiate my curiosity.) 
The presentation turned out really great by the way.  I'd never realized how much I liked acting, or rather just making everyone laugh.
Exactly what I'm not doing at this point in time,
alors je suis partie! 

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this is a blog

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I left the United States in August 2010 as a Rotary exchange student. I'll leave Belgium in July 2011 as Jordann.

about me

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Braine-l'Alleud, Belgium
I follow the sun.