Tuesday, October 6, 2009

On a mission.

Encouraged by the growing number of contacts in my little French phone, my mission lately has been to meet as many people as I can. Even more encouraging, I’ve met a handful of former assistants who have renewed their positions or found some other way to stay in Besançon for 2, even 3 years. If they liked this place enough to come back to, then I must be in for a decent year, right? And they couldn’t have been sweeter: showing us their favorite haunts, explaining the circus of French paperwork, giving teaching tips (which I heartedly welcomed), and introducing us to their real French friends.

I went on a little hike with a group of some of these newfound friends a few days ago. Less than 2 km and taking only about thirty minutes, the path didn’t get impossibly steep but was steep enough to feel like you’re really hiking, you know? Basically, it was a perfect Sunday afternoon outing; picnics would only ameliorate the situation. We got to the top and received our reward: a fantastic view of the whole town, even better than the one from the Citadelle (in fact, this view included the Citadelle). Click here to see a few pictures from the hike! (I’m using a new photo-sharing site so I’ll be able to put up more pics soon and will try to organize them a little better.) Also at the top near the Fort (forgot the name… Chauban?) stood a monument to a regiment of American soldiers that fought on the hill during World War II. Given the topic of my French senior seminar class, this was waayyy cool and also gave another mood to the hike. Imagining soldiers on their own missions, running around with guns, avoiding enemy fire, where we were just enjoying the trees... Favorite thing I’ve done so far and I hope to revisit it often, especially once the seasons start changing (but my goodness, it’s October, I’m sure they’ll be changing soon).

Good of an intro as any for a weather report: We’ve really lucked out because it has been GORGEOUS. In the sixties, clear blue skies, just perfect. However the nights have been cold and we couldn’t get our heater working. Turns out it wasn’t broken, we were just being Americans. Thankfully a more knowledgeable ami helped us out and we now have heat! So far I’ve heard that it doesn’t snow all that much in Besançon but hopefully some connections with assistants in smaller towns outside the city will get me to some real, real, snow. Not like the “snow” in Baton Rouge over finals week last December, but SNOW. Skiing may also be in my future, once my French health insurance kicks in.

OK, now about my teaching. Which is, as far as the French government is concerned, the reason I’m here. The department held a large meeting of all the assistants Monday, which basically consisted of eight hours of information and paperwork. Up until now, I’ve been so preoccupied with the move that I haven’t thought much about the actual job. I officially started my elementary school post last Thursday. I’m teaching all the classes, ages 6-10, and pretty much have all the lesson planning and teaching responsibility. The other teachers have warned me that discipline is a big problem, and since the children can already tell that I don’t speak awesome French (they laugh at my accent) I’m thinking commanding respect and attention is going to be difficult… but I’m just observing the first two weeks and I’ll be getting some help from the school and from a few workshops with the department so I’ll be able to put on a better game face soon. I find the French government a little crazy to give me this much responsibility with absolutely no experience. Teaching will definitely present a challenge, but it’s a mission I accepted and from which I now I’ll learn a ton about myself, and the language, and working in general. Hopefully, it will be a small price to pay for the experience of living in France.


  1. Po-po-po-poker face! =) That should be your "game face." Oh children...why do you think I preferred working with the little ones at Barcelonnette..they're much nicer. Teenagers are so rude!

    You'd be glad to hear that I have made it my daily routine to check on you here; and I'm so happy to have found you posted something today! Oh and you should now allow us to see your pictures on facebook. I want to see the pics they tag you in... =)

    love you,

  2. Yes! You definetly should put on your poker face, Connie. It sounds like you're having a wonderful experience so far. The picture in the post could almost double for an aerial snapshot of the LSU campus, with the similar roofing and all.

    In commanding the attention of the little ones, I'm reminded of the American prison system lore: you have to kill one of them the first day, or you become the subservient. Oh, well. I'm sure there are other alternatives.

    Talk to you later,

    p.s. I like your blog. It poses as a good updater for friends.

  3. Hi, Connie, remember me? Your old Physical Science teacher from SJA. I ran into your Mom this morning at the farmers' market and she told me you were in France. Hang in there with the teaching. Remember that discipline is a constant struggle for all of us. We try to find a balance between having fun learning (and not having as much control) and being so in control that no one can enjoy themselves. Enjoyed reading your blog.

    My daughter, Katie, just started LSU and is planning to major in Spanish. She may be doing something similar to you in a few years. She seriously considered going to Centenary as well, but decided to stay in Baton Rouge so she could keep dancing with Cangelosi Dance Project which she loves. She does still have some mixed feelings about passing up the opportunity to go to Centenary, though. Take care and keep blogging. I'm on Facebook and your Mom said you are, but I couldn't find you. I wasn't sure that any of the pictures were you and there was one without a picture so I couldn't be sure. Please look for me if you have time. Instead of a picture of me, I have some flowers.