So, yesterday I spent a lot of time in high schools. Heeyyyy now, before you start making inappropriate speculations, let me explain. We had an ACE meeting at Independence High in Franklin yesterday afternoon and from there I drove north to Hunters Lane High for my first French class. Oui, Francais.
In an effort to combat my feelings of inadequacy at being unilingual, I’m taking Beginning French lessons through the Nashville Community Education program. Why French? Eh. French has always appealed to me on an aesthetic level and my only other options were Spanish, Chinese or American Sign Language. French it is!
Hunters Lane High School is in the far-away northeast corner of Nashville and I had never ventured to that distant region, like, ever. Getting there wasn’t too complicated except the traffic up that way at rush hour was a little more intense than I’m used to. Once I got there, the high school was all lit up, swarming with cars, and ominously stationed at all entrances of the parking lot were brightly flashing police cars. I pulled up to find out from one of the sentries that there was a basketball game and that they were searching vehicles for weapons.
Weapons!? Really? Clearly, I have been out of the high school basketball game loop for a looooong time.
When they found out I was there for French class and not the basketball game, they waved me through without a search. Apparently I did not look like a security threat – dammit.
At the front doors of the high school there were more security guards wanding everyone who entered. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go through the front doors but went instead to a small side door marked “Community Education” where I was greeted, checked in, and escorted to my French class.
Sitting in my classroom was one other person (Sara, as I later found out) and a few minutes later another student joined us (Stuart, as I was also later to find out). As we three engaged in polite chit chat while alternately staring uncomfortably around the room in silence, a very dark-skinned spry man in purple pants came bounding into the room showing us crooked but gleaming white teeth. Alf-Paul Aruna is his name and French is his game.
Alf-Paul explained to us that he is from Sierra Leone in West Africa, has been teaching French for 20 years, moved to the US 6 years ago and before that lived in England. You can imagine the mesmerizing accent that issued forth from behind those startling white teeth. For the next hour, Sara, Stuart and I were educated and encouraged by the enthusiastic Alf-Paul in the French language arts. I’m already looking forward to next week’s class. Au revoir!