Victoria Busse, Fulbright ETA, Sartrouville
Typically my one hour commute to work deposits me in Sartrouville, a northwest suburb of Paris, but this past week I traveled a few hours further North to the small city of Beaucamps-Ligny, near Lille.
Thanks to an invitation from a former Fulbright ETA (who worked in Maine teaching French), Coralie Buisine, I had the opportunity to teach a few hours in Lycée Sainte-Marie, situated in a quaint village in northern France.
Since I have my Master’s in Political Science, Coralie asked me to do a special two-hour presentation on the American electoral system. To our pleasant surprise six very enthusiastic students, many of whom are hoping to gain admission to “Sciences Po,” a top-tier French university, stayed after hours to learn more about the inordinately complicated way Americans elect officials. I think they may have been more interested than me!
I worked with Coralie’s other English classes Thursday and Friday, doing lessons varying from writing crime scenes and murder mysteries to exploring the concept of the “American Dream.” Overall, the students were eager to participate, and we certainly had some interesting descriptions of crime scenes. One particular group wrote about a man holding a McDonald’s burger for ransom at the exorbitant fee of $3.55; so I hope these kids don’t hope to have a bright future in criminal activity (if only for the reason that they won’t be demanding enough to be successful)!
With her Terminale (equivalent to Senior year) classes, I presented the idea and history of the “American Dream,” and we had a group discussion on whether it was a myth or a reality. The students had a variety of thought provoking questions and comments, and we even tossed around the idea of a “French Dream,” and why that does or doesn’t exist to some people.
I also answered some questions about myself and my hometown of Memphis, and all the students were quite impressed to learn that I had the same elementary school teacher as Justin Timberlake (note: shamelessly name dropping had the effect I wanted: total awe and reverence). Overall, I think they enjoyed talking with an American (and asking all the “easy” questions about gun control, immigration, poverty, and of course, prom), although hearing me answer some questions in French may have been the highlight of their class; so hopefully my mistakes were minimal!
Coralie and her family were lovely hosts, and in our downtime took me to explore Vieux Lille just a few kilometers from their village and then the charming city of Ghent, Belgium one afternoon. I was also lucky enough to hang out with one of the cutest babies in France, so that’s always a plus!