Not the best photo, but the only one I found in a hurry from the school site. Both female/male and the white/non-white ratio are distinctly skewed here.
The joinery class swung into its final (long) straight yesterday evening: four evenings a week through to June on making window frames and staircases. Non-opening window frames only: opening ones nobody builds by hand any more, though I hope to learn how to fit double-glazing into existing frames.
We are third-year (my lot) and second-year students together, which means a lot of new faces and names. Together we are more multinational (adding Spanish, Greek, Italian), less Muslim, more white and more female (one out of 15 – joinery not being traditionally female occupation).
The course per se is easy to follow. My only problems are linguistic: apart from the beginnings of deafness, I find African French, with its high speed and heavy accent hard to follow, and the Spaniard who interprets for the Greek (who has poor French) does so loudly in a heavy (and excuse my snobbishness, low-class) American accent which grates on my English ear. Also, by 20.00 on a day in which I have been professionally in and out of at least four languages, my fluency in technical French leaves me and I start searching for words.
What I also like is being plunged into Belgian 'normalcy' - out of the educated bourgeoisie ghetto I otherwise inhabit.
I don’t know whether there are Christians in the new group: I will not proselytise, neither will I hide my own convictions (outward religious signs are forbidden by the school). Would I invite any of them to our church if they were interested? Yes, there are a couple of our priests I would be ready to put someone into contact with (others I would definitely not), though I suspect that they, like me, would refer the enquirer either to a Catholic church more in line with his cultural background or to another branch of Orthodoxy which is more open to the outer world.