Guadeloupe, le bilan

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent six weeks as a summer program leader in Guadeloupe for VISIONS Service Adventures. It was great! The work was very intense and often stressful, but it was worth it to experience a new and special place alongside a great group of staff and participants. (Bilan is the French word for assessment or report and in Guadeloupe it also referred to our group debriefing and sharing session, held every other day.) Read on for more pictures and words!

Je vais à Guadeloupe!

I’m lucky to have found an excellent summer job, one that will take me back out of the country for about 5 weeks this summer. I’m heading to Guadeloupe, a French island in the Caribbean, as a trip leader with a program called VISIONS Service Adventures. VISIONS runs community service programs for teens that blend volunteer work, cultural immersion and adventure. Here’s some information from VISIONS’ own website: In Guadeloupe, we’ll be living in a fishing village on the small island of Terre-de-Bas. Our service projects may include renovating public buildings, paving walkway,  landscaping, and trail maintenance. Participants will work with …

La boîte de nuit

The best English mistake I’ve come across so far: the nightbox. Sample usage: Vincent: “So, class, what did you do this weekend?” Student: “Zees weekend, I go to zee nightbox. I have drink lot.” Nightbox is simply a too-literal (yet somehow wonderful) translation of la boîte de nuit (nightclub). Since, according to their accounts, my students’ lives are primarily occupied by two activities — (1) drinking and (2) sleeping — if I can get them to talk correctly about those things, I’ll have to consider it a success.

Repas américain

Since I haven’t updated the blog in ages you may or may not be aware that I recently moved into a Foyer de jeunes travaillers (young workers’ residence) in Pau, France, a medium-sized city about 50 km from where I teach. The foyer has collective dinners during the week and last week, the residents asked me if I could lead them in making a typical American dinner, which we did tonight. I found recipes, translated them into French, then went grocery shopping with one of the animateurs (youth coordinators). After that, everyone chipped in to help cook. It took a …

L’Automne au lycée

Fall is here in southern France. Of the past eight days, about six have been filled with variations on the same kind of rain, a gusty, vivacious rain that says “Come out and play!” and I would, but it’s cold, windy, and freaking raining. During a brief break in the weather near sunset last week, I took some photos of the Cité Scolaire where I live and work. Here’s a view of the entrance, or in other words, the place where the French kids hang out and smoke: The track and the cafeteria, with dorms behind. Since some students come …

La Course Landaise

The Course Landaise is a bloodless form of bullfighting that is very popular in Southern France, particularly in the Gascony region. The Championnat de France of the Course Landaise was held this year at the Arena of Mont-de-Marsan on October 3. I went to watch. When I say bloodless, I mean — it’s bloodless for the cows (the Course Landaise uses cows, not bulls, although they’re still horned and hefty). It’s a little bit like bowling: the cows are the bowling balls, and the humans are the pins. The festivities start off with a ceremony featuring people in traditional dress …

J’ai un vélo

Yes, yes, I’ve been terrible about posting since arriving in France. Anyway, I’m in Bordeaux for the weekend, and I bought a bike. Actually, one of the teachers at school had already loaned me a bike, but it didn’t fit me at all — although there’s no denying its bright purple/violet color was quite stylish. But I’m very happy with this new one! It’s a perfect practical bike for France — fenders, luggage rack, the works.

Bienvenue en France!

Time to start posting… I’ve been in France for almost two weeks. I’ve moved into my apartment in Aire sur l’Adour. But I haven’t posted anything on the blog yet, and now it feels like there’s an overwhelming amount of things to write about. So here is a first post to take the pressure off. Look, a pretty picture of Mont-de-Marsan, France!

Aire sur l’Adour, France

With September and the teaching assistant position in France fast approaching, I’ve learned a bit about the town that will be my home for 7 months, Aire-sur-l’Adour. Aire is named for its place on the Adour river, which winds down from the Pyrenees foothills through the flat wine country of southwestern France before flowing into the Atlantic at the city of Bayonne. It is situated in one of the most sparsely populated areas of France; at approximately 6,000 inhabitants, Aire is the largest town until Mont-de-Marsan 30 kilometers to its north-west. Aire is 150 km south of Bordeaux, 50 km …