After a week of waiting for the airport to re-open, three plane flights, a bus, a train, a taxi and a two-hour train delay, I finally arrived in Sancerre, France a little over two weeks ago. The view from the back window of the small, third-floor apartment I am living in is definitely different than where I was in Bujumbura. It is beautiful, calm and restorative.
My heart aches for the continued situation in Burundi. When I read the news I can imagine the impact on those who continue to live in the uncertainly of this time. Those with whom our lives continue to be connected with and those we hope to see again soon. But since I can do nothing there presently, it has been a great benefit for me to be in a constructive environment. So here I am doing more french language learning. Hoping that being here by myself, speaking only french, will give me the remediation I need to progress beyond “Bonjour”.
There are many different types of schools for french language learning. Our school in Albertville was one type, with many good qualities. However, it was not a good fit for me and it left me with a deep lack of confidence in myself and in any ability to speak. So having this opportunity to participate in a school that is quite different has been very encouraging and healing for me.
Classes are only half the day (that’s all my old brain can take!). There are excursions every week to cultural events to put one directly into authentic language situations. One event was cooking a french meal together–all in french, of course. Another was to a small historical village of potters. I’ve opted for the combination course which gives weekly private lessons along with the classes, so I can work on the things I need, like just speaking with someone gently correcting me. And there’s time for long walks to absorb the beauty and mull over the things I’m learning.
I would like to say that due to these things I am now “fluent” but that is not the case. What is the case is I understand so much more than I did, I have more confidence to at least try and I believe I can make progress. Perhaps even more important has been the deep healing I’ve sensed that I didn’t really know I needed. I realize too how important it will be for us to recalibrate our french language learning from time to time, if we are to speak well with other french speakers in Burundi.
Bon courage! There is hope–for my french speaking. I have one more week of classes until Randy will join me here in France. He will definitely need time to de-stress from the last three weeks of living in tension and change in Burundi. I hope being amidst people who are carrying on life normally (minus political uncertainly and the stress of fear) will be part of that remedy for him, as it has been for me. A good french meal or two might also help with that! As will the times ahead of being in the U.S. with our family and friends.