You want me to explain what in Malagasy?

At Close of Service Conference, many things are running through your mind. What COS date will you get? Who are you going to COS with? COS trip? Where? Ugh, final language test.

When you first enter Peace Corps and finish PST (Pre-Service Training) you must complete a language evaluation that will place you on a scale as to where you are with language. When you finish your service, you must complete the same test to see if your language skills have improved since your started. The test is all dialogue and typically is guided by how you answer the previous question. For example, they always start out with you having to tell a little bit about yourself. If you mention your work at site, then you can almost guarantee the next question will have to do something with your work, and so on until the 30 minute time allotted is up.

I was extremely nervous going into my final language test. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel confident in my skills. It was because I hate tests and I always feel like people are judging me for the little errors I make when speaking Malagasy. It’s started out a little rough but then I got into the grove. I explained the differences of hotels here in Madagascar and the States, and then transitioned into Ritz Carlton’s $1000 limit for staff to compensate/serve an unhappy guest. I thought I was home free until the following question was asked:

Tester: Ianao no niteny mamaky boky any Alakamisy. Efa namaky Harry Potter ve ianao?
Translation: You said you read books in Alakamisy. Have your already read Harry Potter?

Now if I was smart and knew where this was going, I would have answered no. But, I answered eka, yes.

Tester: Tsara izany. Mbola tsy mamaky aho. Afaka lazalazao?
Translation: That’s good. I still haven’t read it. Can you explain it to me?

So then ensued a intimidating two minutes of me struggling to explain the storyline to Harry Potter.

Me: uhhhhhhh… misy mpampsavy. Anak’telo. Roa lehilahy. Iray vehivavy.
Uhhhh. So there are witches. Three of them. Two males. One female.

Tsara fanahy izireo. FAAA misy iray mpampsavy tena ratsy. Lord Voldermort no anarany
They are good spirits (in Malagasy, you use this when you want to say that someone is good and honest.) BUT there is one wizard that is very bad. His name is Lord Voldermort.

Namono ny neny sy dada’ny Harry Potter-izy ny mpampsavy tsara raika- izy. Niezaka namono Harry i Lord Voldermort fa tsy afaka.
He killed Harry Potter’s mom and dad-Harry is one of the good wizards. Lord Voldermort tried to kill Harry but he couldn’t.

Mianatra any sekoli’ny mpampsavy ahaona manao magique ny mpampsavy telo tsara. De isan’taona miady miaraka amin’ny Lord Voldermort izireo.
The three good wizards learn at a wizarding school how to do magic. And every year, they fight off Lord Voldermort.

I believe at this point I had gotten so flustered that my lovely language tester felt bad that he guided the topic into another category. It seems so easy to discuss whatever you are asked after living in a country and learning the language for two years, but that’s wrong. I honestly believe no matter how long you live in one place, you will never be able to speak that language fluently. I’m American, and I still have issues with English. What was my GPS again in college? (Inside joke for those I worked with at Disney). I just have to take it one word at a time.


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