I know it said person, but I choose you all because… well, just because. I’ve been with you all for two years now. This past October marked the beginning of our third year together and we’re gradually moving close to our final stop. Then I shall bid you all goodbye and go back home to make use of the knowledge and skills we all acquired. For some, it might be the last time we would see and talk. For others, fate might bring us into each other’s presence again and we would stay in touch using the different media at our disposal.
The ride has been rough and a few days ago, I found myself questioning the purpose of it all. It’s not the first time and it most definitely won’t be the last. Like most of you, I haven’t really felt the rigour that I expected University education to bring. With our school system, we only truly feel pressure at the end of the year when we prepare for the only exams we have. Everything else happens during the year and sometimes I find myself wishing for more work. Fair enough, some days we are saddled with so much that all I want is to stay under the covers and never come out. I guess at the end of it all, we strike a balance and everything works out for us.
When we first met, I was doubtful and probably scared to find myself in the midst of strangers. I was a stranger to you all, and given my origins and my different look, a more fascinating one at that. I still remember the excitement and the determined looks in our first classes as we shared our plans, our goals, our expectations, our fears etc. I’ve always hated class introductions and those were no exceptions. I can remember being very nervous each time my turn came, for I was doubtful of my abilities to communicate in my newly acquired language. I had had only 6 months of tutorials on French grammar and was expected to use that to sail through University. After all, it had gotten me through both the written and oral tests of the entrance examinations. It has never been easy. It still is difficult, but I look back and thank God for how far I’ve come. When I shared my story and talked about my ‘handicap’, you all were sympathetic and some offered to talk to me in English, which I refused. How else was I going to make any progress? We went through the first year, which I admit has been my toughest school year yet. While you all engaged in debates and serious discussions, I watched, translated, argued and endorsed all in my head. The first months, I would sit through classes, translating the lectures and taking note of new words to enrich my vocabulary. It was frustrating and I remember spending a whole night in tears when our French Professor announced that I had no writing style. That was struck out by the end of the year and I was grateful for the challenge he’d presented me. I was stubborn and wanted to prove that theory wrong.
I changed from my usual noise-causer and great debater status in high school to a timid almost-absent part of you all. Sometimes I catch you staring and think ‘they must be wondering why I never participate in class but still get high grades’. Well, what I lack in speech, I make up for in reasoning and writing. When English class comes, the ‘dumbness’ disappears and you get to see my talkative alter-ego. You see a completely different person who wished she’d be that comfortable in all other classes, so she can get to her maximum. Well, if wishes were horses, et ainsi de suite.
Through it all, I’ve learnt to persevere and focus on the important. With you all, I’ve been able to appreciate the diversity in background, knowledge, reasoning and much more. You’re the closest I’ve been to the people of my host country and I believe I shall always remember something about each one of you. It’s not all positive and I can’t say I’ve found friends in you all, but the lessons are valuable. When asked what our future aspirations are, we all give our almost-default answer: become a great journalist. I pray these dreams come true for all of us and that we all get to meet again some day while carrying out our tasks as professionals.
I chose you all because each time I walk into campus, this morning inclusive, I am assured that at least one of you will share a kiss, as is done everywhere around us. Once on the right cheek, twice on the left and with the lips, we share a smile.