I took my ulpan test today. Ulpan is over, and the government gives us tests, I guess to make sure that these state-funded institutions are doing their job, and for the students to work toward something. Our ulpan class started in October of last year with about 25 people. By the end of the year we had dwindled down to about fifteen. It was a good class, I learned much about why things are said they way they are. Having a linguistics background, I found it to be fascinating. Hebrew is a logical language. Really.
That being said, the test was, for me, not all that important. I know how far I've come with regard to the language, and that I have a long way to go. I didn't really study much for it, just reviewed "hufal and pual", which I never, ever learned in high school, just had a vague awareness of them (they are passive grammatical constructions for those of you who are still with me). It's fun to actually know how to use them....
At the test we were seated in such a way that made sure no one was right next to anyone. There was a chair between my fellow classmate and myself. There was a proctor at the exam, and it was like taking the NYS Regents. Test forms were handed out, we had to wait before we could start, and it was being timed. About thirty seconds into the test I hear, "Psst..."
I couldn't believe it. The woman next to me asked me what a word meant. I looked at her, then looked at the proctor. I felt like I was back in high school. What should I do?
Let me take a moment to tell you all that I am not a self-righteous person. I have scruples, but there have been times I have compromised them. I used to shoplift "Wacky Packages" from Max's Candy Store on Hooper Street in Williamsburg. (Don't tell my mom!!! But she's the one who wouldn't give me a quarter to buy them!) That stopped when I got caught and Max threw my friend and I out of the store and told us we were lucky he wasn't calling the police. (I was THIS close to being a jailbird). I have not lead an exemplary life. Sometimes I cheat at Sodoku--but only the very hard ones.
But G-d, I am--well it doesn't really matter how old I am. I am to old to say yes when I don't want to. I didn't want to help this woman out. I wanted to shout at her "GROW UP!!!!" This is not such an important test. It won't make a bit of a difference in her life (she is not looking for a job, and even if she was the test itself is not that important). Don't you want to know how you did without the benefit of the test? (It's not that satisfying completing a Sodoku puzzle that I had to cheat on to figure out.)
All I did was shrug. The woman doesn't speak a word of English and I couldn't have helped her anyhow. Of course, not the point. She then asked me to put my paper down on the chair so she could see it. I don't think so, lady. Finally, she gave up on me, put her Russian-English dictionary on the chair and freely looked up words there as needed. She also cheated off my paper. I wonder how she felt as she handed the test to the proctor. Did she feel a sense of accomplishment?
I just don't get it.
The Stuff That Lasts, Part Deux
5 weeks ago