My two fifth grade classes were going on canoeing and biking trips this week, so their English lessons got smushed onto Wednesday morning. I attempted chocolate chip cookies which, if you are Nicholas, Peter, Mom or Dad, looked a lot like the cookie jerky from a few years back. And that was the best of three attempts. The kids loved them anyways and demanded the recipe. Both classes showed up with the big pink Paris rugby team flags and pink crepe paper flowers pinned to their shirts. When the class ended, they all came up and gave me their flowers, which they had made. How sweet!! Everything was pink themed because "Rose" in French translates to "pink." So essentially, my name in French is Pink. I am conflicted about this.
Hi busy day. It is also near 30 degrees Celsius, which I believe is about 145 degrees Farenheit. I am also trekking around Ussel with a grocery bag of peanut butter and jelly sandwich fixings, a projector, and a backpack with my laptop. I was sweating like a pig. Jean-François and I banged out some awesome pbjs for our combined fourth grade insanity and also for my third graders at School One. That class went well. Mr. Modeste, the principal, gave me a present - a photo book of pictures of the Plateau Millevaches. The two teachers I work with at School One, Catherine and Fabienne, took this last day to tell me how difficult this year was. They both approached it in ways that I tried not to take offense to. Look, I'm a new teacher, I'm not French, foreign languages are not a subject everyone immediately takes a liking to, give me a break. I did the absolute best I could. Every single day.
Then at School Two, the ridiculous fourth graders were ANGELS because Marie-Pierre sat in. They also enjoyed the pbj sammies. P* gave me a really pretty bracelet, S* gave me candies, and the rest of the students gave me adorable scraps of paper.
Virginie at School Three had to explain to me 2855 times how the 'lesson' was going down. I think the sun and heat fried my brain. The pancake recipe she found was a little odd - yogurt? - and the electric griddle was way too hot but they kids devoured the pancakes. It was a really good time. Those students are just out of this world. As I'm with them all afternoon - from after lunch to the end of school - they all gave me bises (kiss-kiss) as they left school. OH MY GOODNESS can they be any cuter. Mr. Barbe, the principal, gave me the present from the staff - a book about Corrèze, a Corrèzien recipe book (yes!!!), and an address book with pictures of the volcanoes. There is also an hysTERical card with notes from all the teachers. They are a funny bunch.
As my fifth graders were out biking or canoeing or climbing trees, I only had my nervous fourth graders at School Two. Catherine is very no-nonsense, so when it came to be five minutes late, I poked my head out the door. I glimpsed ALL of the fourth and fifth graders - all of my students at School Two - in the hallway with those darn pink Paris rugby flags. UH-OH. Madame Cousty, the principal and third grade teacher, called me out into the hallway. I immediately burst into tears. Oh my goodness. Not even in English could I express how grateful and thankful and happy and sad and fulfilled I felt. I learned so much and I grew so much, and it's because of nearly 150 of the silliest little children on the planet. The school gave me a present - a butterfly necklace that I personally find hideous but hope to work into my wardrobe somehow. And more awesome scraps of paper from my students. I especially liked the acrostics poems: Rigolote (fun), Océan (ocean? what?), Sérieuse (serious), Etats-Unis (United States). There are funnier ones.
During this last session of lessons, I gathered up all my students in each class by groups and took their pictures. Photographic evidence, I told them. I can't wait to introduce you to all of them. They have such personalities and hysterical stories. I love them, really.
Françoise took me out to dinner at Lac Ponty restaurant. It was beautiful. "I didn't want you to leave France with only bad memories!" she joked. My bags are packed. My bank account is closed. In classic French style, I had one more argument with France Telecom. (A letter to close the internet account and a phone call to close the phone line. Will it end.) I have two more huge packages to mail home. I have said my goodbyes. I have been emotionally and mentally ready to leave for a few weeks now.
I just feel so comfortable here. I really look forward to sitting still for a while.
I am very proud and happy that I can look back on this experience and say that I did my very best every day, that I went far outside my comfort zones often, that I learned so much about me as a person and French speaker and teacher, that this is the keystone event in my life thus far.
A weekend in Paris and I'm back in New York for a whirlwind summer.
Au revoir, La France. Tu me manqueras, mais nous nous reverrons bientôt. A la prochaine.