jeudi 10 avril 2008


Another day of strikes and of running to school only to find out that no one is there. When I arrived a few students were blocking the gate that leads into the school. The principle unsuccessfully tried to separate the wall of students. The cops came and broke the chain.

"The door remains open!" the principle shouted as he went back inside the building.

jeudi 3 avril 2008

My train was canceled this morning. After leaving home at 7:35, I hastened to make it to the platform on time. Upon my arrival at 8:02, the info screen reads Malesherbes : BIPE: 8:07. Great. Then 8:08. Then the words disappear from the screen. The train's not here, the train is late, the train's not coming. There is no valuable information to be found at the information desk other than speculation that the train was canceled, I have to wait, patientez. How can a rush hour regional train from Paris to the suburbs be canceled? For the second time this week, I call the school's administration office to explain away my unwillful tardiness due to the unpredictable workings of the regional train.
I get off in Mennecy shortly after 9:30 and continue the walk/run up the little streets, past the church, and across Avenue Charles de Gaulle to find an unusual congregation of students lining the gates. It's normal for students to pass time chatting or smoking cigarettes outside; however, the size of the crowd led me to believe that perhaps a fire drill had driven them outdoors. I greet a group of familiar faces who respond with hello followed by "good luck." With what? As indicated by the cardboard signs proclaiming "la culture de jeunesse(youth culture)" at the gate's entrance, the students are striking. I cross Madame Papillon on the other side of the gate who informs me that it's okay, don't worry about being late, class is canceled anyway, the students didn't come. The intricacies of the French school system continue to elude me, but I managed to gather that the secondary school system is changing in ways that are contested by many students. My meager research shows that the students are divided.
"It's not the France that I want for my children," a teacher says in the lounge.
In an afternoon class, I saw the boy who had been protesting that morning as I'd entered the building. He raised his hand in attendance. I forgot to wish him luck.