School, Work, Mail, and Some Opera

One of my goals for this summer program has been to inform what additional French courses I need to take in the future by identifying key deficiencies in my language skills. I from my time on the ground here in Paris I have discovered that one of my greatest weaknesses in spoken French is the recognition and pronunciation of certain sounds. One of the other students from Pitt on the mentioned that the university offers a course called French Phonetics which is specifically tailored to working on pronunciation in spoken French. She told me however that the course is not offered every semester, so I hope it will be offered in this coming fall or spring.

This week I started working on a preliminary draft for an implementation guidance document for a recommendation passed in April of 2018 by the Council of Europe on the rights of children with imprisoned parents. I am identifying key stakeholders affected by the recommendation and what actionable measures those stakeholders can take. The document itself is the first piece of children’s rights policy of its kind to be endorsed at the European level. The NGO where I am working has been spreading awareness about this memorandum this June. The recommendation lays out 56 articles which address a wide variety of children’s rights from ensuring timely visitation, to implementing arresting procedure which bears in mind the psychological impact of the arrest of a parent on a child, to even laying out the rights that a pregnant woman and her newborn should be afforded in prison. This project has provided me a wonderful opportunity to learn about the language and implementation of human rights policy on a European level.

My second project of the past week, although less glamourous allowed me to interact with some very helpful and upbeat members of the French civil service. Over the past week I have been stuffing about 300 envelopes with invitations to an event the NGO will be hosting. Once I finished, I took an enormous bag to the French post office to be mailed. I did not know what to expect from a French post office. Would it be as dreary as an American DMV or as charming as a small Midwestern town’s post office? I was pleasantly surprised with how helpful the staff was. As I walked towards the main entrance a postal clerk on a smoke break who probably noticed my 300 letters got my attention and directed me to another entrance leading to the business mail desk, which had no line and another helpful clerk who helped me unload and sort all the letters. It reminded me of the service at the Fox Chapel post office and the experience briefly transported me home.

Finally I have been very luck to get to see two operas and one play this past week. I am always finding something new to do.