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Susain Haigh '14 (Testimonial)
Program: Fullbright Teaching Award to Perpignan
The first two years of college I changed my major three times and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life after college. My freshman year I did not understand the value that my French studies would eventually bring to my life, so I even tried to drop out of my French class. Luckily, my French professor at the time, Madame Larsen, encouraged me to continue my French studies and convinced me to stay in her class.
Joseph Habbouche '12 (Testimonial)
At first I was disappointed to discover that I had ended up in the small town of Saint Avold (pop. ~20,000), in the province of Lorraine in eastern France, but I can now say with certainty that I was privileged be there. Being in a smaller town allowed me to engage in the community and make strong connections with the people I met, in addition to forcing me to speak almost exclusively French as English speakers were few and far between. Finally, because the cost of living was far less than it would have been in a large city such as Paris, I was able to afford quite a bit of traveling. While there, my main role was to teach English to high school students ranging from 15 to 22 years old. I worked with students one on one as well as in classes of over 30. I also developed good relationships with the teachers I worked with and saw them occasionally outside of the classroom.
Besides working at the high school, I took a position teaching English to kids and adults at an organization called "Apprends-moi ta Langue" (teach me your language). I also had the opportunity to play in a semi-professional orchestra, go to an independent winery exposition with open tasting of over 2000 wines, and visit many of the famous sites in the region with my students.
Among what I am going to miss most from France are efficient public transport, the quality and rhythm of life (in school, for example, there are two weeks of break for every six weeks of class), the food (the baguette, cheese, and wine stereotypes didn't come about for no reason), and the wonderful people I met over there.
So while now it seems like the next eight years or so of my life are pretty straightforward with medical school and residency, life has proven to me so far that it won't be as simple as that and I'm beyond excited to see what new, unexpected adventures await me!
Gina Veltman '12 (Testimonial)
Program: Lycée et Collège Rabelais
My last day teaching at Lycée et Collège Rabelais brings my mind back to the first day I approached the building, finally finding my way from the RER train station to the high school, lost as usual. I have the inclination to say that over the course of the year, I have learned what not to do. Not in a pessimistic way, but in the sense that by getting lost, one learns the right way. Living and working in a foreign country is a constant learning experience, a long trial-and-error period, but true progress is learning from mistakes, remembering to implement a correction in language or tweaking a lesson plan to help students learn better.
As an English teaching assistant at the lycée and collège, I teach about twelve hours of class per week to students who are the equivalent of middle schoolers and high school seniors. In my position, I was given complete freedom with the students, which means I am now very practiced in creating and finding my own material. Since I am considered a supplementary teacher, my goal was to get the students talking and practicing their language, which I tried to do through fun projects, such as a murder mystery game, or in one class a video-exchange with an American high school. On a personal level, this year helped me to learn effective ways of explaining, the particularities of language learning and classroom management. My assistantship coincided with my courses at New York University in Paris, which allowed me to implement the concepts I learned about how to teach foreign languages. I also sincerely enjoyed my students' personalities and enthusiasm. When my students get excited about an activity I have planned for them, it motivates me to work harder to plan something that will increase their interest in learning the language.
Not only have I learned about being in a school environment, but after spending the year in France my language skills have improved enormously. Every experience, positive or negative, forced me to improve in my communication abilities. Spending time in cafés with friends, listening to my students making jokes they thought I couldn't understand, and pushing myself to make semi-awkward conversation in the teacher's lounge was just as important to my growth as all the practicalities of life in Paris such as finding an apartment, opening a bank account, and dealing with the paperwork nightmare that is inevitable when moving to France. My year in Paris was real life. I am no longer a tourist nor quite a Parisian, but somewhere in the middle. I have learned to blend in by not smiling in public and I fait la bise rather than waving goodbye, but I think I'll still always have butterflies in my stomach and twinkling eyes when I see la Tour Eiffel.
Ian Amin '11 (Testimonial)
I first studied French and Business with IES Nantes in the spring of 2009 and absolutely loved my experience in France. After graduating from Hope, I found a great job with the Canadian division of Gordon Food Service where I helped bridge the gap between English and French (Quebecois) speaking colleagues. In order to further improve my French skills, I decided to apply to the Teaching Assistant Program in France and was accepted. I packed my bags and moved to the south of France where I taught in the Bordeaux Académie. Working at Lycée Marcel Dassault, I taught English 12 hours a week from October until May and loved every minute of it. The salary was just enough where I could afford to enjoy a student's life inBordeaux, but also travel through Europe a bit during the eight weeks of vacation that we had during the academic year. I found myself speaking more English than I would have preferred in the beginning, as this was my job, but soon enough, I found plenty of French friends and dove into the local culture.
Bordeaux was the perfect site for my second experience abroad - I especially loved the public transit and the Parisian style architecture found throughout the city. I really enjoy cooking, so living in Bordeaux also gave me the perfect chance to brush up on my knowledge of wine and southern cuisine! While I will be sad to leave, I know that I have made lifelong friendships and I will always have people to visit WHEN (not if) I return to France some day. I highly recommend this program for anyone looking to return to France - whether a recent grad or someone just seeking to return to the place they love after being away for too long!
Caitlin Shrock Johnson '09 (Testimonial)
Program: Nantes '07
After studying abroad in Nantes in 2007, I was hopeful of finding another way to return to France someday. I graduated from Hope in 2009, got married, then went on to get a Master of Arts degree in TESOL from Cornerstone University. Once my husband, Nathan Johnson ('09), finished his studies at Western Theological Seminary, it was the perfect time to spend a year abroad. I was accepted into the Teaching Assistant Program in France (www.tapif.org), and my husband was accepted at a French Reformed seminary for a year of study. Fortunately, I was placed at two schools in Montpellier, the same location as my husband's seminary.
For my job, which is an eight-month commitment, I work 12 hours per week in two French high schools. I teach conversation skills to small groups of students, give presentations about American culture, and help the English teachers prepare lesson materials, recordings, etc. This has been a valuable experience, as I have learned much about handling a classroom while also observing other English teachers' styles. My students and I had a lot of fun holding an American-style mock election in November, singing carols at Christmas, and playing many conversation games.
Nathan arrived in France after taking one Hope French class and studying on his own last summer. All of his seminary classes here are in French, so he has had to learn the language rather quickly! He is getting a head start for next year when he will begin a PhD program in New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, for which French is a requirement.
My French skills have also greatly improved. The teachers I work with make an effort to speak French with me; we've made many friends through my husband's seminary; and we've learned a lot about the logistics of living in a foreign country. We've also had a lot of vacation days to travel around Europe. Overall, this year has been wonderfully formative for both of us and an experience that we will continue to look back on with gratitude for many years!
Brianna Carpenter '08
Program: Nantes '08'-09
Lauren Eriks '08
Program: Nantes '08'-09
Ashley Holtgrewe '08
Program: Martinique '08'-09
Lisa Moore '07
Program: Brittany '07'-08
Heather Hahn '06
Program: Poitiers '06-07
Holly Dustin '06
Program:Alpes Maritimes '06-'07
Andrew Mercer '06
Program: Laval '06-'07
Sarah Quesada-Lubbers '06
Program: French Guiana '06-'07
Kyle Williams '06 (Testimonial)
Program: Brittany '07-'08
The English Teaching Assistantships through the French Embassy are a fantastic way to use one's French studies and immerse oneself in French culture. My placement was in Pontivy, in the academy of Rennes (Brittany). Since many study abroad programs are based in Paris, or one of the other large cities, this has been a unique opportunity to see a part of France I might never have come to otherwise. Although I had never even heard of Pontivy before last summer, I now have a thorough admiration and appreciation for my French home: From the Breton monk who first built a bridge over the Blavet and lent his name to the village, to the Rohan family whose 15th century château still dominates the downtown, to Napoleon himself whose grand plans for Pontivy led to a brief time of importance and power when the city was known as Napoleonville, this hidden valley in the middle of Brittany is steeped in history and tradition.
My favorite aspect of my sejour has truly been the day to day life here along with the other assistants (two Germans, a Brit, and a Colombian here in Pontivy - French is the common language, which is great for all of us). I teach between 1 and 4 classes a day, generally with 12-15 students per class, which allows me to work closely with them and get to know each student personally. My school, the Lycée Joseph LOTH, is a historical landmark that also dates from the time of Napoleon. Collaborating and sharing ideas with the other assistants and professors has been a great opportunity to use the language as well as learn about French education and society. Outside of school, I have had such experiences as navigating the French administration to get paperwork done to receive social security and other benefits, being inconvenienced by transportation strikes and celebrating National Education strikes, riding my bike everywhere, and spending time with the French - my students, my neighbors, and new friends. I know I will miss walking the crooked cobblestone streets and catching glimpes of the château on the way to my school.
Allison Templeton '09
Program: Montpellier '09-10
Anna West '09
Program: Normandy '09-10
Sarah Williams '09
Program: Nantes '09-10