“What languages do you know?”

…asks my Russian-Czech new acquaintance/English tutee.

She, not surprisingly, is well-versed in Russian and Czech, and her English isn’t so bad either. My day, meanwhile, began with stuttering new Chinese phrases and ended with a full-out Chinese 101 quiz, the first of many.

Conversely, this conversation with my new tutee took us to the Czech Republic (I had to try to explain to my new friend why we Americans say the Czech Republic but not the South Korea, etc.) and to a part of Russia I had never heard of, and to marriage customs in both places.  The ability to communicate across language barriers is not unknown to Princeton, and something I cherish about this place.

My new Russian friend tells me she loves Princeton, because the town is not too big, and it has “a spirit of studying.” I am suddenly blessed by her idiosyncratic English. “Can you say that?” she asks me. “Yes, and it’s quite poetic,” I answer.

Perhaps she is the one teaching me today.

On the bus, on the way home, I sat down to read a book about a Morrocan man’s pilgrimage to Mecca. What a blessing to be in a small corner of the world and know at so many moments of one day that the world is not quite so very far away.
Putin, Bush, Hin Tao
(This picture has only a little to do with this post- mostly, it made me laugh…)

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