Thursday, November 13, 2008

a day of training

So today I had a day of state-sponsored training, a full day to get to know France better. They covered French history, geography, the constitution, major laws, national symbols, etc. All this for free, plus the invitation said they'd provide translators and lunch. Well, I was the only native-English speaking person there... and no translator for me. There was a group of Chechnyans, folk from Morocco, and another group with a translator (maybe Polish?). I could follow fairly well since the training included powerpoint slides, and I can understand written French text better than spoken.
I never knew these tidbits:
  • the first car was invented in France (unless you count those windmill-powered things from the 1300s)
  • women didn't get the right to vote until 1942 or so (1918 in the US)
  • French Guiana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, and a couple more departments are not sovereign nations--they're more like Hawaii is for the US --fully represented overseas parts of the country. It looks to me like the sun never sets on France, and that's in today's post-imperialist state
  • freedom of speech, press, equality before the law, separation of church and state, all those supposedly American ideals are alive and strong here... sometimes more developed, sometimes less.
  • Jeans really do match everything... my instructor was wearing the button-down white pleated shirt that we'd normally only see in a tuxedo!

I see now that I did learn something, but was it really worth missing a whole day at work? It was mind-numbing! I have one more of these coming up--next Thursday--but if I skip it they won't renew my work visa next year!

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