Greek Lessons Part 2
I re-started my Greek lessons this week! It turns out that taking five weeks off from all things Greek (by returning to the United States) was very necessary for my brain. And amazingly, I don’t think I lost any of my vocabulary or grammar! I’m really grateful for Evangelia – she’s giving me lessons for free twice a week as her way of supporting HD. And this year, HD paid for my textbook, so I have my own to write in (previously we were all sharing a book and had to write answers in a notebook, which just…didn’t work in my brain very well?).
All this is really great, because I’m using my Greek more to talk with the Greek-speaking participants at HD. I stayed late with two of them on Friday, and the three of us managed to communicate for over an hour. Not in anything resembling an intelligent conversation, but we got along and laughed and knew well enough what the other was trying to say. I know I will eventually reach another plateau of “UGH GREEK,” but I plan to enjoy this period as long as possible.
We had a team from the States come to HD for the week to teach us how to knit. I spent the first day doing it wrong and hating it, and then the second day realizing my mistake and thinking “THIS IS SO EASY (compared to what I was doing).” I love our Celebration Weeks when we get to hang out with the participants on equal footing – M and D latched onto knitting quickly and left me in the dust, which I think is a valuable thing for them to experience (and me, too).
I was thinking a lot about the nature of the teams that come to us, though. Our participants are becoming more diverse – three different countries, three different languages, two different races, two different age levels – but our staff and volunteers are pretty universally white, educated, middle- or upper-class women. I wonder how helpful it is for our women to see privilege, privilege, privilege all the time.
But then…how else is someone going to come volunteer with us if they aren’t privileged? Not everyone can take a week off of work and afford to fly to Greece. I don’t think there is an easy answer here, but it’s something I want to keep thinking about.
I didn’t do a lot socially this week – I worked late a couple nights, and I was especially drained from being Happy and Hospitable for our team. Rosie came over one night, and we discovered a mutual interest in anime and Korean dramas. She said she wanted to read something fluffy, and I hesitantly offered, “Have you tried…fanfiction?” and she said, “Oh, yes, of course,” and I leaped for joy. Nerdy kindred spirits.
Speaking of nerdy kindred spirits, I went over to Luciana and Giorgos’s another evening to play Zelda: Twilight Princess. We passed the controller between us, all taking turns and pointing out suggestions to each other, and it was so fun!
This will come into play more next week, but…I’m going to Romania! Luciana and I were trying to go to Bredvoort (Netherlands) but tickets were too expensive. I half-heartedly checked Ryanair for cheap tickets to anywhere and noticed €20 tickets (each way) to Bucharest. “Do you want to go?” I asked Luciana and Olga. They immediately wrote back yes, and I bought our tickets. Within 30 minutes, I’d made weekend plans to visit Romania with two friends! This is exactly the sort of European lifestyle I want.
I’m really pleased for you! Based on my own experiences in learning a second language, you are close to the precipice where you fall into fluency. Language ability does not come on a smooth curve, it comes in steps and jumps. Suddenly you are more proficient, then a pause for a while, then another jump. A rest between these jumps seems to help as well, so your trip to the US was good for you, at least in that aspect. Life will be so much better once you are over the language barrier for good. Good for you!
I fear I misrepresented my Greek skills – I am nowhere near fluent! But I’m more comfortable trying out what language I know, which is a huge step for me, a fearful social perfectionist. Fluency is a beautiful dream that will hopefully come…in a year or two or three!