Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Samen Spraak

I had an appointment today with Hans at Gilde Amsterdam to talk about a conversation partner. I showed up early and was buzzed in. The sign at the top of the stairs said, "Hier Melden." I know this means, "Report here," so I walked in. The woman sitting at the desk looked surprised, as if I had walked in to a room with a sign on the door reading, "Keep Out," instead of (essentially) "Come In." (F said, "You could have knocked.")

She led me to the "bibliotheek" (library), which was a tiny little room with a bookshelf and a table. I heard a man in the next room speaking very slowly to a woman. Eventually, she was ushered out and I was ushered in. Introductions were made and we began our interview.

Putting modesty aside for just a second, I have to say that when Hans asked how long I'd been in Amsterdam and I told him one year, he said, in Dutch, "You already speak very good Dutch!"

Putting the modesty back on, I have to admit that I'd said basically, "Hi," "thank you," my name, address and telephone number. So it wasn't as if I'd done a lot of talking. After a while he understood my need for a "gesprek partner."

It was a good interview. He said (as he had said to the woman before me) that I would be receiving a phone call from a volunteer within a month and we would continue from there. I guess you just set up the time and meet somewhere and talk about things. I'm all excited. I need practice talking to people who refuse to speak English to me.

I have been carrying on as many transactions as possible completely in Dutch lately. I even asked a woman at the video store today what she thought of the movie I picked out for tonight - The Forgotten. (F and I love Julianne Moore) She said it's a good movie, but the science fiction is a bit "raar" (strange). One of the normal guys will always speak English to me no matter what I do. Even if the only thing he has to say to me is "drie euros, alsjeblieft," he will say, "three euros, please." Because like what? I couldn't have understood?

No comments: