Monday Morning

This poem was inspired by a TED talk given by Shabana Basij- Rasikh filmed at TEDxWomen

MONDAY MORNING

It’s Monday morning. My alarm clock crackles to life, filled with static it begins to play the latest pop hit. My eyes open. Okay, one eye opens. I squint at the numbers, shining much too bright, much too early. It’s 6:52am, if I don’t get up I’ll be late for school. I hit snooze and roll over.

It’s Monday morning and in Afghanistan, a girl who looks nothing like me opens her eyes. She needs no alarm; she rises with the sun and starts to get ready. She doesn’t want to be late for school.

The radio clicks on again, it’s 7:17, I’m definitely going to be late. I roll out of bed, throw on my uniform and glare at my reflection in the mirror. It’s Monday morning and I’m not “feeling” school today.

She wraps a scarf around her head, letting only her eyes peek out. You can’t see underneath but, she’s smiling. It’s Monday morning and her fingers are crossed that today she can go to school. Last week it was cancelled; she’s not sure why.

Mom drives me to school and I half listen to her lecture about not missing the bus, half wonder if I’ll be able to get away with a nap in English class. It’s Monday morning, I’m too tired to even consider trying to do any work.

She is led to school by her little sister…or little brother depending on who’s asking. She can’t leave the house without a male escort; this way they can both go to school. It’s Monday morning and they take a different route than last time, avoiding suspicion.

I arrive in first period, find my classroom in the long hallway, sit down with 20 other students. I barely hear the lesson and chat through the work period. It’s Monday morning and even the teacher doesn’t really care. I count the hours until I can go home

She arrives at a one room house, sits down with 80 other girls, each of who know that what they are doing is forbidden. She keeps both eyes on the teacher but one ear towards the door. It’ Monday morning and whispers are flying that their secret is out. She stays because she wants to learn how to solve the math equation on the board.

The other girl and I go through our day, same earth, different worlds.

The worst part of my day is when the café is out of chicken salad wraps. The worst part of hers is when the soldier enters the room. I complain to my friend while eating pasta instead. He puts a gun to her head. I mutter “School makes me want to die”. He pulls the trigger.

She just wanted to learn to solve the math equation on the board.

I won’t hear about her on the news, no one will know she’s gone, she’s just one Afghan girl. But if I did, if I saw her face maybe I wouldn’t say she looks nothing like me. Maybe I would see the sparkle in her eyes and know that we both love to debate, love to sing, love people. Maybe, maybe not. But I won’t know because I won’t see her. And I won’t know that she’s gone. I won’t know that she died for something I take for granted.

It’s Monday morning. The other girl is gone. I am still here, wishing I weren’t. A girl who looks nothing like me was still just a girl. She just wanted to learn how to solve the math equation on the board.

Tomorrow is Tuesday morning. I will get up and moan about school again, she won’t get up at all.

Update on my life

Hello! I'm back!
Hello! I’m back!

I’m starting to find that the longer I go without writing, the harder it is to get back into. There have been so many times the last couple of months that I’ve thought to myself “Hey, this was cool, I should write a blog post about it.” And then, obviously, never did. Which makes me sad because, I write this blog for myself as much as (or more) than I do for readers. Being able to look back at my exchange in at least a decent amount of detail is already something I appreciate.

Since the last time I blogged, a lot has gone on in my life! I spent the summer at my of my favourite places on earth, Beausoleil Island being a counsellor at Camp Kitchi. It was honestly one of the best and challenging experiences of my life. At first I felt like I had no idea what I was doing but I figured it out slowly but surely. Hanging out in the cabin with all my crazy girls, becoming close friends with the rest of the staff, guarding and teaching at the Main Docks, canoe trips to McCrea Lake, camp-fires and mail and all camps and life chats on the dock at night. It was just incredible and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I’ve also started gr 12 which is exciting, stressful and challenging all at the same time. All anyone talks about is “So, what are you doing next year?” which becomes absolutely exhausting after a while and you just don’t want to hear the question any more! At least I already know where I want to go (kind of) and what I want to study. I actually applied for my schools/programs yesterday which is kind of surreal! Weird to think that next year I’ll be living in a new city whether it be Ottawa, Peterborough or Toronto! Can you guess which schools I applied for? 😉 I’m actually taking a few days off school this week to go tour the campuses! I applied for International Development/International Studies and hope to add a second major in French eventually! Apparently you can’t do that when you apply!

university-application

I also have a job now, I work at a gas bar on a highway rest station which I like! I wanted to lifeguard but missed the hiring because of camp! I actually do like my job though because it’s not stressful and I get to interact with people all the time! I also still am a student leader at my church, a mentor to grade 9’s at my school and just recently became a French tutor which is kind of cool! So that’s about it. Just figured I’d catch up on what’s been going on in my life so that I can get back into blogging and such. 🙂

20 Differences Between School in Canada and Switzerland

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Hello everyone! Today I am writing about all the things I’ve noticed that are different about high school ( or collège ) in Switzerland than they are in Canada. I’m obviously not going to explain the entire schooling system because it’s very different from ours and a bit complicated (it’s taken me this long to get it all straight) but there are some very obvious dfferences! Sorry if it’s pretty random, I’m just writing them as I remember. Also, none of these things are meant to be negative. Different doesn’t mean better or worse,  just…different! 🙂

1. Number one is the reason I’m sitting in my bedroom on a Thursday morning at 11 am writing this blog post! Forget supply teachers, if a teacher is sick, class is cancelled and the students are free to study in the library, go home or really do whatever they want. No French class for me today!

2. So that last sentence was a lie, I actually have FOUR hours of French on Thursdays so I only got out of two. Why only on Thursdays? Because in Switzerland, your “program” changes everyday. Unlike in Canada where (if you go to a semester school like me) you have 4 classes at the same time everyday for 5 months, in Switzerland, you have different classes everyday of the week! It can be pretty confusing. For example, On Mondays I have art, history, French and English. Then I’m done with art and history for the week! Thursdays to contrast are English, French, Gym and French. (I have French almost everyday “yay”)

3. HALF DAY WEDNESDAYS. The absolute best thing about school here. At 11:30 on Wednesday, school is over and all the students are freeeee! It’s actually great because it’s like you start school on Monday and then it’s only two days until Wednesday. and after Wednesday, it’s only two days until the weekend! It make the school week that much more bearable.

4. Long hours. Enough said. No thank you, I would like to finish school before 4:30 in the afternoon. However, because of the changing programs, you can sometimes get out at 2:30, or not start until 10. My program however sucks and I don’t get any of that. I just love having more classes than my exchange partner! *not*

5. The actual school itself. Obviously not all schools are the same here or in Canada, so this is a direct comparison between JOA and Saussure. My collège here is pretty strange for me. Basically, if you disconnected all the hallways in JOA and stacked them on on top of the other, stuck the cafeteria underneath and the gym underground, you would have an idea of what Saussure is like. It is in total, 8 stories high and you can take the stairs or use the student elevators (just don’t use the teacher one by accident like I did, oops!) There are 4 gyms, and the library takes up most of the 3rd floor. It’s very different and easy to forget what floor you are on as they all look very much the same.

6. Gym class is taken so much more seriously here. Like I’ve been climbing ropes, doing handstands off a meter high board, flips, and balance beams and swinging on loops hanging from the ceiling. Cause we’re all gymnasts right? Also, it’s obligatory for all four years of school. Here are some pictures of my class.

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6. Speaking of obligatory, the kids here basically have no choice in what classes they take. You choose between German, Art or Music and you can pick Spanish or Italian. That’s really the extent of it. Enjoy chem, physics, math, english, french, geography, history etc for all four years. Collège itself however isn’t mandatory however and you have to have certain grades to get into high school. Otherwise, you can go straight into the workforce, get an apprenticeship etc.

7. You start/finish school one year later. I’m in a third year English class and they are all 17 and 18 (as opposed to 16/17 year old gr. 11’s in Canada)

8. You are with the same class all day, everyday. While the program changes everyday, the kids in your classes do not. With the few exceptions of art or Spanish (one of the few options) you are with the same group of students for every class for the entire year, much like elementry school. This makes catching up if you’re away easier I guess but if you aren’t in the same class as your friends it could be pretty sucky. There’s also the issue of gender imbalance as Amen’s class has only three guys in it and her friend’s has only 3 girls…who made these classes???

9. The marking system is odd as well. No precentages, you get a “note” between 1 and 6. Why 6? I have no idea. But you can only get a whole number or a half number. For example, you can get a 4 or a 4.5 not like a 4.8 or something. Strange but I guess it works for them. Oh and there’s no credits so you either pass or fail the entire year. About 40% of students repeat the last year at least once!

10. I know I already said gym was super serious, but honestly all the classes are. These kids do homework all night, every night, the workload is seriously crazy. If I ever hear anyone at JOA complain again…

11. Teachers are way more respected and have a lot more…authority I guess you would say. You would never talk back to a teacher here. All the kids sit quietly and listen and don’t talk in class. If you are talking, the teacher can just tell you to get out, I’ve seen it happen. In Canada, a lot of us (depending on the teacher obviously) are almost friends with the teachers, you can joke around with some of them and have fun in the class. There is definitely none of that here. It’s really strange. The only teacher I’ve meet here even close to acting like a teacher back home is my English teacher who I really like. The rest are very…cold I guess is a good way to put it towards the students and the students treat them extremely respectfully. Teachers show up 5- 10 minutes late all the time too and the class just waits but if you are late, the prof doesn’t have to let you in. Also, my French teacher looks exactly like John from Lost. That is all.

12. This is pretty irrelevant but they don’t really ever use lined paper. It’s all graph paper. And it (the binders) have only two holes, close together in the middle. As I said, irrelevant but still something I noticed.

13. Almost everyone smokes. I hate it. But there are little balconies on either side of the building on every floor specifically for that. It’s also legal to smoke and drink at 16, just thought I’d add that. But you have to be 18 to drive so haha!

14. No lockers. There are a few but they are less then a square foot and you have to pay to use them.

15. Because there are no lockers as mentioned, the walls are bare (okay not bare, they’re actually covered in student paintings which is cool) and so everyone just sits down in the hall. People walking just step over/around. It’s completely normal for an entire class to just be chilling on the floor outside the class.

16. “Poses”. I love this. Halfway through class, a bell rings and everyone gets up and leaves for a few minutes to get a drink, use the bathroom etc. It’s great because you get a nice little break. However, because of that, you can’t ask to leave in class for anything, you have to wait for the pose. AND THE BELL IS LIKE IN GREASE. Sorry, side note. The bell is like ding, ding, ding! Just like in the movie Grease when the principal wanted to make an announcement! Anyway, I like that.

17. No uniform! This only applies for Canadian Catholics school kids like me but is still awesome enough to mention!

18. The caf sells fresh pastries. Enough said #painauchocolate

19. PDA is over the top. Ew.

20. And finallllly. Everything is in French! Shocker! Sorry, I just didn’t want to have an uneven number of facts :p

So that’s about all I can think of for the moment, although I’m sure I’m missing some. Some of these differences are big and some of them aren’t, some are probably specific for JOA or Saussure and some could probably relate to every exchange student. Overall, school here has a very different atmosphere. Much more serious and in some ways I think students here have less freedom than back home. I know this was a longgggg post and some of it probably wasn’t very interesting…and no pretty pictures, sorry ’bout that! I’m still new to this blogging thing! Hopefully you made it that far and are left feeling grateful for the education you got/are getting because that’s what being here has made me! While I really like being here and school is interesting for a few months, I miss JOA and have come to appreciate the school system back home a lot. We have a lot of choice and are more allowed to be individuals.

Anyway, that’s the end! I’ve got to get back for gym class soon, pray I don’t break anything! Also shoutout to my sister for being awesome! If you’re reading this, I miss and love you a lot Mal! Have been thinking about you today and how proud I am to call you my little sis! Can’t wait to get back to our Thursday night sister dates, annoying each other, talking about life and forcing you to hug me 🙂

Hope everyone has a great day today 🙂

P.S. I’m reading Harry Potter en fracais and am rattled by the fact that “Hogwarts” has been changed to “Poudlard” Not impressed translator man, not impressed