The interview started off on a good note, with 4 people in 3 different locations looking at me and asking questions (1 from an ‘umbrella’ NGO and 1 and 2 from the respective NGOs who would potentially offer me an internship). Not nerve wracking at all, right? After about an hour I had answered most of the 20-some-odd questions for each of the respective Canadian NGOs (although some questions only required one standard answer). So as we were approaching what felt like the end
the internet cut!
I had no idea. I began to panic when the Wi-Fi didn’t reconnect after a couple minutes. The only thing—on fast forward playback in my mind—was “Greeeat, this will probably cost me both internships.”
I hurried out of the bedroom to find the helpful (Anglophone) housemate I had met the night before. He apologized for the Wi-Fi cut, explaining that it was caused by an electrician who had just begun working on the apartment building. I asked if there was an internet café nearby and he told me how to get to one a couple blocks away.
Although I was used to throwing on wool-lined boots in Sackville, I was told to dress light by the helpful housemate, so I threw on some sandals with my jeans and T-shirt. I proceeded to run down the steep turquoise wooden stairs with my laptop in my purse and my head up in the clouds about how I needed to hurry before the interviewers gave up on me. ‘Must…not…fail…interviews’.
To my pleasant surprise,
I stepped out onto a peaceful sunny residential street. I was a bit startled by the two electricians who greeted me…in English: “Good morning”. One was covered in dirt and was in the middle of digging a hole which took up about half of the miniscule ‘yard’ and the other was retrieving something from the back of the white van.
“Good morning”, came out of my lips, but I was thinking ‘Yah, great morning’.
Wait a sec: why they hadn’t spoken to me in French? I was in Montréal, right?
Who knows…after the monotonous hours of driving the day before, maybe we had actually reached Ontario…for all I knew with my muddled head that was trying to cope with a cold, we could have already arrived in, gee, I dunno…Ottawa.
I turned right, as I had been directed to do, and immediately felt like summer—it was almost 30 degrees and the sun was blazing—although just a few days before I had been wearing my winter parka in New Brunswick. Here, there was no snow and the birds were cheerfully chirping. A tabby lazily crossed the street. A woman planted flowers. It seemed like the other residents were at work or school.
I made it to the main street, turned left and walked a block, but still didn’t see the café, so I headed into a stationary store to ask for directions. I noticed the accent of one of the two friendly store keepers—a hispanophone!—and he directed me one block farther to the café I was looking for. “Mil gracias.”
Next, I jay-walked (who wouldn’t if they were in a similar situation). And. Then. It. Really. Hit. Me: I was actually in Montréal. The signs on the businesses along this commercial street were all in French (not English and/or French like in Moncton). People lined the sidewalk in front of the café, sporting tank tops, sun glasses and sandals, chatting, reading, writing, stroking their dogs whose tongues were dangling in the heat wave weather. As I approached the café, the sound of Québécois French felt comforting after more than three years away from the unique tongue.
I was relieved that I had reached the café and chuckled at myself and the pickle I was in. Regardless of the outcome of this interview, I was in a fascinating city, one that I had wanted to visit for years.
Now speaking in French, I ordered un café au lait and asked for the password to access the Wi-Fi, biscuits—how fitting! I dived into a comfy chair at a table near the back so as not to disturb the only other patron in the café (the rest were outside soaking up the sun).
By the time my café arrived I had already tried to connect to the Wi-Fi several times, but my computer just was not going to accept connecting to this public Wi-Fi (yay security settings). I was sure to confirm that the password was indeed biscuits, avec le ‘s’.
It had now been about 20 minutes since the Skype call had dropped… MERDE… but in my head it felt like many more.
If only I could just refresh my e-mail, then I could simply write down the landline number for the umbrella NGO and phone them to explain this most unfortunate situation. But alas, security settings would probably be the reason I wouldn’t get either internship. After all, who would want to hire an intern who couldn’t even manage to have a proper interview? Let alone actually get work done.
Sigh…peut-être que la vie n’est pas belle.
Suddenly, I felt my purse vibrate and sure enough, it was the ‘umbrella’ NGO phoning. I immediately apologized and explained what happened and was reassured that in fact, it was no problem as we had nearly finished both interviews already. I was told to return to my friend’s apartment and call one of the two NGOs (the other one had finished asking their questions) via the landline which would be much cheaper than using my cell.
I hastily gulped down my café (which was excellent) and headed back to the apartment, only slightly more relaxed—I guess the caffeine was working. The infamous electricians smiled and asked, “Back already?”. I can’t really remember, but I think I smirked.
I asked the helpful housemate if there was a landline,
but of course, no, there wasn’t.
SO, I phoned Nova Scotia on my cell and was told to re-phone on the NGO’s toll-free number, which I did. Finally, after another 20 some odd minutes, the interview was complete and I had even had the chance to ask a few questions, like who I would be living with during the internship.
I felt pretty amazing once the interview from hell was over for two reasons:
a) I had succeeded to ‘complete’ the interview and
b) I had a feeling I might actually get an offer for an internship, despite the mishap.
* * *
11 days later it was confirmed that I had been selected for the internship in Chiclayo, Peru (sigh of relief that I would be able to put my undergraduate degree to use and inner explosion of pure joy, parce que oui, la vie est vraiment belle. My job: to teach after school activities like art, music, sports, etc. to underprivileged 6 to 12 year olds alongside Peruvian women. The internship offer was made the day after my Convocation, pretty cool, although it would have been a lot easier to tell people that I would be doing an internship after graduation instead of explaining the possible options and sounding like I didn’t know what I would be doing with my life after graduation. But that would have been to easy, right?
One of the other possibilities was teaching violin in Sistema New Brunswick, a social music prgram (free for its participants) modeled after the successful ‘El Sistema’ Venezuelan program. The main idea: kids, in particular, have the right to be given the access to beauty and the right to create, as stated by one of Sistema’s more famous outputs and perhaps the world’s most enthusiastic and gifted conductor, Gustavo Dudamel (for more on Sistema NB, see my ‘Things I’ve written’ page).
More on the internship and Sistema in a later post 😀