Today seemed to be a turning point. When we had discussions about texts and pictures, everyone was eager to talk and ask questions. The whole week has been marked by generosity, humility, and sincerity on be part of both the students and teachers. It’s really been remarkable. Until today, however, you could see and feel a sense of apprehension when Stephen or Christophe would stop speaking and ask if anyone has questions. Not only did people feel free to ask questions today, but we all had plenty to say.
The highlight of the morning was when Stephen had us discuss a story about a goddess that essentially took the life of her sons because their work was so difficult. By taking their life, she ushered them into a glory-filled, grief-free existence. I think every student in the class shared an opinion concerning whether it was right for the mother to do this or not. The thoughts shared were not just short little random bursts. Rather, when someone shared a thought, another would follow up with a question or an affirmation or another perspective. In short, we actually had a dialogue in which everyone participated. Stephen has done such a fantastic job leading us in these discussions this week.
The remainder of the morning we learned another host of everyday words. We moved from how to speak about getting dressed, to words that take us to the bus stop and then to work, which for most of us is a school of some sort. After lunch, Stephen directed our discussion of a few comedic pictures, and we worked in small groups of two or three to discuss them. Each time he cut us loose, I got lost in conversation with the person sitting next to me.
The biggest portion of the afternoon was spent with Christophe reading to us Hansel and Gretel. An illustrated version of the story in Greek was projected on the board, and Christophe read it to us slowly and in such a charmingly animated way. It was a long telling of the story, and almost all the vocabulary were common, Hellenistic words. The combination of the familiar vocabulary and Christophe’s ability to read in such a vivid way made the whole evening enchanting. We were not allowed to touch our lexica. Christophe was the lexicon. He would go to great lengths to explain the words by acting out the meaning or running to the kitchen to grab an example of the word. No English glosses were given, of course. Rather, he portrayed the meaning by acting out boisterous illustrations marked by a myriad of ancient Greek words. Greek flows out of Christophe like bourbon flows out of Kentucky. We spent about two and a half hours listening to this story and asking him whatever questions came to mind.
I left the σύνοδος today with a full heart and a worn out mind. Our teachers are such kind souls, full of so much life and joy. The students are here to learn and I cannot think of one situation I’ve been in that was marked by pretense. I have yet to find a good way to say the word “fun” in Greek, but Stephen did help me find a way to say something pretty close: ἀπολαύω τούτου, I’m enjoying this.
It’s time to relax a little before working on tomorrow’s readings.