Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tower of Babel

     A lot of you know that I like languages. Learning them, knowing them, hearing them, anything. Language is such an incredible connection between peoples of the world and I think they're really fun!
     I myself know English (obviously), Russian (from my parents), and Spanish and French (from school). Yesterday the school conducted placement tests for math and languages and I had a really cool experience.  The math test was first and it was ok. I placed where I wanted to, but there were definitely some intimidating students. One of the questions looked like this:

    S E N D               <--- Each letter represents a digit. Solve for each letter.
+ M O R E

     While my math skills aren't too terrible, I didn't have enough time to solve this problem, and as far as I've heard, no one else did either. But one of the girls in my hallway went back to the dorm and did solve it. Just goes to show that we each have our own strengths and that there are a lot of really talented people here!
(Also, I challenge someone to solve it :) I'll let you know if you get it right)
     Anyways, that's not even the cool experience I mentioned. After the math test, there were Spanish and French placement tests. And, being the over-achieving, multiple-language learning, IB student that I am, I was kind of in a bind: I had to be two places at once. And while UWC does have many Hogwarts-esque elements (did I mention that the third floor corridor is off limits to students? It is. Seriously.), being in two places at once is impossible.
     I had to go talk to the language teachers ahead of time; they were all so nice and easy-going and happy to work with me! We decided I'd take the Spanish test first and then the French. When I walked into the Spanish room I was really confused. There were no chairs. Not one. Just a bunch of desks pushed against the wall and yoga balls. No, really. The teacher believes students should be comfortable, and apparently yoga balls inspire creativity and a yearn for learning. It was so cool!
     Still not to the cool part. After Spanish I headed down the hall to French. All the students who had completed their respective language tests were standing around chatting. And I don't even know how many languages were being spoken. Several times over the weekend I've seen people find their language-mates and you should see them light up, both becoming much more animated and excited- it is so cool! Yesterday we also had an all-school assembly and to begin some of the students read the mission statement in their native language. I counted at least twenty, no joke. And the vice president told us that there are at least forty languages studied here over the year. Isn't that amazing?!
     I've even gotten to participate in the fun! Someone in the language hall noticed me taking both tests and, after hearing me speak Spanish with the teachers, started talking to me in French (his native tongue), testing whether I really had studied it before. Apparently I passed his assessment :) I've also found someone who speaks Russian, though only one person. This girl's linguistic abilities are also really impressive. She's Austrian  but has studied in Spain and Russia and speaks several languages as well. It's so exciting to speak with someone in a different language!! There's kind of a unique connection formed, and I can't wait to improve my skills and have the chance to speak more!
     One more thing- in the evening yesterday we had what's called "Dance Fun", basically an event where all of the first years learn several of the cultural dances used throughout the year. It was SO FUN. Each time we had to pick a new partner, first-years with second-years, and we spent about half an hour on each dance. There were three- one from Latin America, one from India, and one from Africa. Dance is really big here, and everyone had a blast just being together and sharing cultures.
     Ok, enough of my excited-ness about all the multicultural aspects of UWC, though I'm sure you'll hear more about it later :) Hope all of you at home are doing well!

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