Promoting peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation - one community, one individual at a time.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Katherine in Deauville- Winter 2024

Bonjour! My name is Katherine and I am one of the 4 English Language Assistants that have the honor to work in Deauville for the year. I arrived about two weeks before the “Touissant” (All Saints Day) vacation which was my observation period. I appreciated having this period since not only is this a new school to be working in but there’s a new culture for me to learn! While I’ve been fortunate enough to have spent time in France through previous Sister Cities programs, I have never worked in a primary school in France before which has culture differences of its own. One of the differences here at school is as simple as lining up. When I was little, I loved the book Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans. In the book, the girls line up “in two straight lines.” Well just like in the books, the kids here line up two by two or “deux par deux” instead of single file. I have seen the little ones holding hands with their line buddy on the regular which is super cute to see. Another difference comes from the food culture being important in France. While I still on occasion hear kids complaining about the food at the cafeteria, I’m not convinced it can compare to what I grew up with. First they are served an "entrée" which is typically a vegetable of some sort. Second they get the "plat" which so far has been a meat and a grain. Third is the cheese course. Then last is the dessert course which may be a piece of cake or a piece of fruit. They aren’t given the food all at once. Each course after the entrée, the lunch ladies will come around and serve each student the food. Students have the option to go home for lunch or eat at school. No one brings their lunches to school here - if they are eating at school, they eat the cafeteria lunch. Of course students with dietary restrictions are accommodated for.


During the Touissant vacation I spent time settling into Deauville and was fortunate enough to get to spend time with friends and my french family. I participated in the Sister Cities exchange program in 2015 and have been so fortunate having friends from then as well as with my french family that I was paired with- they truly feel like family at this point.


After the Touissant vacation I started teaching and we launched into incorporating Thanksgiving and Christmas into our curriculum. There were lots of hand turkeys, and saying what we are grateful for. In the after school program (APE), the English teachers lead “English Club” that the students can elect to take. During English Club, I got to talk about traditional Thanksgiving foods with the students and show pictures of my family celebrating Thanksgiving in Kentucky. Once Thanksgiving ended, we were full steam ahead for Christmas. Part of this was due to a big city event which was the lighting of the Christmas lights! Every year the students in Deauville perform a few songs and then the mayor will choose one of them to press the button that turns on all the Christmas lights of Deauville. This year they had one song in French and three in English. It was super cool to see them get to perform the English songs that they had been working hard on in front of the mayor and the town. They did a great job!

Monday, April 24, 2023

Ella in Deauville - Spring 2023

 Bonjour! We've just finished up our fourth période of school, the seven weeks between our February vacation and Easter. Our fourth roommate and second assistant from Nashville, Madison, arrived right at the beginning of the February vacation. She is now working with the little kids (preschool to 2nd grade) and I'm with the big kids (3rd through 5th). 

I'm happy to now have had the chance to work with all our students in Deauville, from preschool to 5th grade. I'm still able to see the kindergarten through 2nd graders during lunch and after-school activities. For the preschoolers, Madison and I rotate working Wednesday afternoons at what's called mercredi loisirs, where the kids only have school in the morning and we take care of those who stay for the rest of the day. I love being able to see all of our kids regularly—it really makes me feel a part of the Deauville community. We also run into kids around town pretty often. In that way, Deauville can have a very small town feel!

During the February vacation, Kira (our other assistant from Nashville) and I went to Scotland for nine days. We stayed in Edinburgh and saw all the sights, and took a bus tour of the Highlands. We were even able to see Sarah, a former assistant who is now living in Edinburgh working on her law degree. It was really cool to be in an anglophone country again, and I really enjoyed getting to talk to Sarah about her experience being in France during lockdown in 2020. 

I'm now on my first week of our Easter vacation and enjoying some much-needed rest in Deauville. The other day I went on a hike in the Suisse Normande, a "mountainous" area of Normandy a little south of Caen. The panoramic views of the countryside were beautiful and reminded me a lot of Kentucky! Next week I'll be working at Espace Jeune, the vacation camp for middle- and high-schoolers. When we're back to school we'll have about 12 weeks straight without vacation through the end of the year.