After an uneventful day of working (Tyler) and grocery shopping, knitting, and reading (me) we decided to walk to Cafe Jazz for dinner. I had a cheeseburger and Tyler had a chicken pizza. We had finished our meal and were about to leave, when a group of about twenty people came up to the balcony seating area where we were. The leader of the group spoke in English to everyone and carried a video camera and microphone. They were all laughing and talking and it seemed like quite a production so we decided to wait for a little while to see what was going on.
In a few minutes, we learned the congregation was an "Open School" English Language class, filming dialogues to wrap up their first learning unit. Following a script, there was an interviewer and an interviewee, and they would ask and answer basic questions to practice introductory vocabulary. It went something like this:
A Hello! I am the Open School TV presenter. How are you doing today?
B Fine, thank you. How are you?
A Very well. Would you mind if I ask you a few questions?
B Of course not!
A Thank you. What is your name?
B Ahbsallemma (for example)
A Could you spell your first name for me please?
B Sure! A-H-B-S-A-L-L-E-M-M-A (this was cute, and his name seemed to go on forever)
A Thank you. Where are you from?
B I am from Tunisia.
A Could you introduce me to your friends?
B Sure. This is ______________.
A Hello ______________ , how are you?
C ::repeat from the top::
A It was very nice to meet you!
B Nice to meet you, too.
C Nice to meet you, too!
It was adorable and reminded me of French classes I loved so much in High School (and the Spanish classes Tyler hated so much but now wishes he'd pay attention in). Of course the group spotted us immediately and after their first round of filming and interviewing we were invited to join them.
Many handshakes and smiles and giggles ensued, and they even treated us to glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice. After making the rounds and meeting everyone, Tyler and I were asked to participate in the scenario as A and B, and we happily agreed. As we were being filmed, it was hard to keep a straight face, and even harder to follow our unnatural sounding script. Any deviation, however slight, or speaking too quickly would easily confuse the others, so we tried to play by the rules.
Hilarity ensued when one of the pupils was asked to be the interviewer and Tyler the interviewee. Neither of them could keep a straight face, and Riadh, the teacher/cameraman, scolded them to keep quiet. One of the few women in the group, Ollah(?), was by far the best student. After an hour or so of laughing and socializing with these friendly Tunisians, they were done filming and it was time for us all to leave.
Before we could pack up, a goodbye-photo-shoot commenced, as everyone wanted their picture taken with us individually. We were happy to stand there and smile, our arms around our new Tunisian friends. Finally everyone was satisfied, but there was still one last kind gesture—the woman in charge (Riadh's aunt, I think?) presented me with a huge bouquet of flowers that must have been intended for her: lilies, roses, and even a bird of paradise, all wrapped in fuchsia crepe paper and tied with a gigantic bow. It was lovely.
Thank you so much, Open School language class, for your kindness and generosity and including us in such a fun evening!