Friday, May 15, 2015

Why I would choose FRE 124 a million times over given the chance

My first day into the FRE 124 class was nerve-wracking...I did not know what to expect from the lecturer or from the students I was to share the class with. It is always an agonizing and anxious experience when you don't know what to expect from a group of individuals you are meeting for the first time trying to make a good lasting first impression. I was particularly early this day hence I had ample time to polish my oral French skills so that in the event I am asked to speak before the class I do not embarrass myself by mumbling words.

The class started off like any other normal class with the casual introductions and the exchange of pleasantries. The lecturer then explained the schedule of how the 15 week long course was to run. The part that interested me most is that there was no written final exam but rather we were going to be graded according to the topical blog posts that we write after every topic covered. Interesting, right? It's been a while since blog posts actually accounted for a grade at the end of a semester. Another interesting fact about this class is that although it is a French introductory class, the class is purely taught in English with occasional translations of French vocabulary that creep in the conversations from time to time. Therefore, in order to join FRE 124 class, one does not necessarily have to be a guru in spoken as well as written French.

Like any other class, FRE 124 included research and presentations. The twist however was that you had to choose a topic that tickles your fancy, carry out extensive research on it only noting the points that captured your attention then share them with the rest of the class. Most presentations were about language, music, festivals and culture with the occasional preparation of dishes from countries that one was researching about. We also occasionally watched interesting films and listened to music in class as part of the course work for the semester. Now a class that actually requires you to watch films and listening to music is not worth missing.

Cooking for the class was a great experience that I will live to cherish. My first dish from Haiti was a combination of starch, vegetables, soup and meat all in one dish. My 'doubting Thomas' instincts compelled me to have someone taste the food first lest I present it to class and give my classmates a free ride to the hospital because of food poisoning. Upon "professional tasting and certification" that the food was fit for human consumption, I confidently took it to class where we all enjoyed eating it.
In terms of cooking, I would encourage anyone reading this to join the class because in most occasions FRE 124 will actually save you lunch money when it's food presentation day. Jokes aside, preparing dishes from African countries gives you an insight of how their food is prepared, why they use certain spices or vegetables and you are also able to learn the eating habits and patterns of the different countries.

Well apart from having the coolest most awesome lecturer in the entire campus (Dr. Wandia this is your cue to blush), we were nominated for the Best Education Blog category in the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) Awards. The competition was neck and neck between Strathmore and Daystar but at the end of the day Strathmore beat us to it. I did not sulk when I heard this because being nominated was a milestone in the first place so we have a higher chance of winning next time. Writing the blog posts is also a good opportunity to sharpen one's writing skills as with time one gets a hang on the writing and it becomes more of a basic necessity rather than an imposed obligation.

All in all, I would like to recommend FRE 124 to anyone who loves learning new things and having fun at the same time. FRE 124 gave me the opportunity to make new friends, people that I probably would have never interacted with and I am grateful for that. If you are a shy person who has difficulty expressing themselves, FRE 124 gives you the opportunity to break out of your shell and freely interact with the class as you share your interests. To my classmates Juliet, Mercy, Morris and Armand, thank you all for being my friends throughout the semester always finding time to check-up on one another and for eating my Soup Joumou with the diligence it required. To you Dr. Wandia, thank you for being the awesome lecturer who made FRE 124 a success and for constancy bringing treats to class.        


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