Tomorrow we are all off to Lyons to meet our fellow French and German Jesuit novices. There, we will have a series of workshops on subjects ranging from social justice to liturgy to the environment. Considering that not everyone there will be bilingual, it will be interesting to see how the workshops will operate. For all the prayers were are doing, we have to provide French and German translations of them just so that everyone knows what we are saying. No doubt we will become very aware of how essential it is to learn other languages.
Which is probably why Henry and I were in Oxford during all of July helping out at a language school created to teach English to foreign Jesuits. We had Jesuits from Portugal, Poland, Slovakia, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Vietnam and Indonesia. It was wonderful seeing how everyone got on and enjoyed themselves despite being in unfamiliar surroundings. The community we stayed in, Campion Hall (www.campion.ox.ac.uk) was incredibly welcoming and made everyone feel at home. Also, thankfully, the students got to see some sunshine whilst in Oxford so they didn’t go away thinking that it only rains in Britain.
So there we were, helping other people learn English. Next week, we will be the ones needing the help.