First snow & fresh starts

It’s been an eventful week – I’m not feeling especially chatty, but let’s see.

Sunday was the first rehearsal for a choir I joined that’s been put together to do the Fauré Requiem as a benefit for World AIDS Day. I heard of the project through a friend in the Orpheus Singers; about half of the 30 people in this group are from that choir. It’s wonderful to be singing again, particularly in such good company (the Orpheus Singers won second place in their category in a choral competition on CBC this spring). I also made it to my first meeting of the Church of Craft knitting circle, hosted by a granola housing co-op residing in large converted warehouse near the river, somewhat west of the Old Port. Fun fun fun. My socks are coming along nicely.

I’ve also just begun French classes at the Maison de l’Amite, a refugee support centre run by the local Mennonite church. (There are to my knowledge two congregations in the city, with just a few hundred members between them, but they still manage to operate and fund this centre. Pretty cool.) Everyone else in my beginner’s class is a recent arrival from either South East Asia or Latin America, except for one woman from Hungary. My classmates seemed surprised that I, a life-long Canadian, wouldn’t already speak French – after we all went around and stated our name and nationality, a Colombian woman asked in front of the group how it was possible that I hadn’t already learnt the language. I’ve been getting that a lot lately. It is a little embarrassing that everyone in my class has some working knowledge of English (they use it to ask the meaning of terms they don’t understand), though none of them speak it as a mother tongue, and I can’t even reliably pronounce the alphabet of the second official language of my nation.

There are days when this not speaking French thing gives me something akin to an inferiority complex. You’ve got to understand that growing up, very few people I knew spoke any French at all. I could have taken classes in high school, of course, but people in my school – only a small percentage of whom would go on to attend a University – rarely did. As soon as I started University, however, I found myself with peers who mostly had learnt that sort of thing, and some time ago. I even met francophones for the first time! People from Québec are surprised I don’t speak any French, too, since people they know from Ontario usually do, but then people who speak French are more likely to move here. I get teased about it a lot here, but I just promise everyone that I’m serious about wanting to learn. I don’t even think it will be all that hard, but it will take time. Until then, it’s back to the verb charts for me. Wish me luck.