Monday, 11 April 2011

Learning Greek

Learning Greek is not an easy business. It's all about the syllables - the more the better - and the tongue twisters. 'Mia Beera Parakalo'. It beats 'A beer please' by 5 syllables (and 'Yes - Nai' sounds like no, so Im still slightly incapable of even demonstrating agreement). But I recon you can get a long way knowing how to correctly, convincingly and loudly say 'Endaxi' (Okay).

So, we have been having weekly lessons at the migrants social centre as part of a group of around 20 beginners. We were warmly welcommed to join the free classes and 3 weeks in, we can string a few sentences together.There's people from all over the world (including from places I'd never heard of, like Comoros Island, which I now know if off the coast of Africa, right near Madagascar). There's quite a lot of banter and blank faces (there's universal agreement in the rock hard nature of Greek).

But as much as I enjoy being in the group, I have to critique it! At least a little bit. I enjoy being in the group, but to what extent am I in it? We smile and chat with our classmates. They sometimes ask us what the words are in English. Our teachers do sometimes too. But I feel a little bit outside. Everybody seems to talk to each other a bit more, to laugh and joke a bit more. I have the feeling we are set very slightly apart because we are different. We are the only 2 Western Europeans in class.

For sure, the people who speak to us the most are our 2 lovely, patient teachers (one of them is learning English so we are a useful source of extra tuition for her). We seem to get a disproportionate amount of their attention. And quite a porportion of the lesson is now translated into English (when we first arrived it was entirely in Greek), which aint that useful if you're an Eritrean woman who doesn't speak the 'Universal tongue'.

I think we're slightly apart because we know and they know that our lives are different from theirs. Perhaps this difference is  in terms of how we view choice (we had a free choice to come to Greece, I imagine they had much less), in terms of how we view what we do (we don't work, I think they probably have to work shit jobs illegally) and in terms of how we view our freedom (I was gonna write that I think we are more free, but that's too much of the truthless bullshit).But these are indeed my views, not theirs. I'm just giessing that they would agree.

The attention from the teachers. I wonder whether there is some feeling that because we are English, our nationality carries more respect in their eyes (I ahred this view with a friend and she thought it could well be like that).

Does this mean that through this view of mine, I consider myself better than them?
How much does the way I act reinforce these views?
I think I just go with the flow, but should I act differently?

Perhaps this is all my creation and a happy conicidence of teacher-student cooperation because we speak English. Anyway, over the course of the next months lets see how we get to know each other..