a TAPIF language assistant blog / un blog d’une assistante d’anglais

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Les souvenirs de Narbonne, Pt. 4: Colleagues and Friends

I was very lucky during my year in Narbonne when it came to my colleagues. I knew this from the very beginning. In the summer, when I found out my placement and emailed Jill, my department chair, I received emails back from her and two other teachers. They were so kind and welcoming, and they put my mind at ease and got me even more excited to arrive; I would have people there who cared about me from the get-go! Once I got there, it only got better. They are so much of what made my year great.

It's been a while since I described the way that the program works and what my work was that year, but I'll sum it up here: I worked as an assistant to the twelve English teachers in our department. They were the real teachers, but for one hour a week, I went to each teacher to assist in some way. (Yes, I worked only twelve hours a week.) I generally pulled small groups of students out to engage them in English conversation. So, I had the privilege of working with twelve different teachers in a foreign education system. As a teacher, this was such a valuable experience: I got to not only witness a completely different school system, but twelve different teaching styles, as well. I'm so thankful to this group of ladies, from whom I learned so much that year. It was such an invaluable opportunity, and I don't take it for granted.

After talking to my friends/fellow assistants throughout the year, I realized that I was actually exceptionally lucky. Not everyone had my same experience. My colleagues were not only professionally considerate (they communicated with me well AND they arranged my schedule so I had Fridays off all year!) but they were genuinely warm and friendly. They invited me to eat lunch with them, to come to dinner at their homes, and even to spend weekends with them. I loved meeting their families and getting even more opportunities to meet people, speak French, and better understand French culture.

a little gift waiting for me when I arrived from Laurence

with Sam and Elina, Cathy's sweet kids

with Violeta (the Spanish assistant) and Edith

Violeta, moi, Edith, Alex, Amandine's husband, Amandine, Dominique, and Robert

Edith and Dominique

important business, the champagne

clockwise, from front center: Leslie, Jill, Sophie, Edith, Amandine, Laure, Cathy, Dominique, et moi at the going away party they gave me before I left (which I'll write about in the post about my final days in Narbonne)

Facebook status April 18, 2013

with Edith on my verrrrry last day in Narbonne

with Cathy and Edith

These twelve ladies accepted me and invited me into their conversations, their lives, and their homes, and I'll always be grateful. I loved our franglais conversations (we all floated back and forth between French and English seamlessly, depending on mood and/or need, and I loved having a group of people with whom I could just speak in whichever language felt natural at the moment). They shared their lives and their culture with me freely, and I learned so much from them. Even though I haven't kept up as much as I'd like to, I do think of them quite often. Un merci the size of Texas to Laurence, Nicole, Sophie, Nathalie, Sandrine, Leslie, Mylène, Laure, Jill, Dominique, Edith, and Cathy for making my year as your assistante d'anglais one that I will never forget.

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