Although my contract doesn’t officially start until October 1, it’s not like I have any pressing plans here, so I agreed to let the Méchain teacher’s 15-16 year old students interview me for a project today. N picked me up at Claudel, then drove me down to Méchain, where I sadly learned that I pretty much have to stand on tiptoe to faire la bise with practically every teacher. Tall people, what’s your secret? Share.
My heart was trying to climb out of my ribs just before the first class, because there’s nothing like having a classroom full of teenagers staring at you. But when I started answering their questions, all my anxiety disappeared, especially when I realized they were probably more nervous than I was—I was effortlessly speaking my native language, while they were talking to a native speaker with a language they’ve probably never used outside of school.
For each of the three classes, I had to answer some of the same questions over and over again, like “What’s your name/age/favorite color/music/film/sport/food?” “Where do you live in America?” “Are you married?” and “Do you have siblings/pets/children?” One girl asked, “Do you like Mr. V?” and when I glanced over at N, he rolled his eyes. I mean, obviously I was going to answer, “No, I hate the teacher who’s been super nice to me.”
Sometimes things got slightly awkward when I couldn’t understand the students’ pronunciation, like when they said “clothes” instead of “color,” but N would step in and clarify things. I did have to explain words like daycare, lifeguard, and salesman, as well as concepts like stir fry, Parks and Recreation, and the difference between college and university. But really, the only bump was when some over-achiever asked, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and I went, UM I DON’T KNOW QUICK BS SOMETHING and so I blurted out, “Teaching or grad school?” My favorite moment, though, was when a student adorably said, “Do you have a woman?” when he was trying to say, “Are you married?”
Méchain has a smaller English team, five teachers as opposed to Claudel’s ten, but they’re equally nice and spent lunch mocking the burkini ban, which was fine with me. The lead English teacher here has actually been to Richmond, interestingly enough! N took me through the canteen, graciously paying for my lunch, and honestly, I’m jealous of these high schoolers. The food at both schools is delicious and edible, unlike *cough R-MC food cough*. Meals include a dessert, fruit, cheese, or yogurt; a main dish (some kind of meat); side dishes (vegetables and/or pasta); and a mini-baguette. At Claudel, it costs 3.85 euros, and though I’m not sure about Méchain’s price, I’m also allowed to cut students in the food line. (Interestingly, Méchain students are only allowed to have fries once a week—imagine the rioting that would happen at R-MC. Also, high schoolers are in school from 8:00-5:45, those poor souls.)
I start working at Méchain next week, on Monday, Tuesday, and mostly Thursday, so hopefully it won’t be too nerve-wracking. I mean, I did walk around the school in a circle because all the corridors look the same and I didn’t know how to get out, but eventually I found the entrance/exit. Oh, and I walked in the wrong direction while looking for the bus stop and tried to ask a deaf professor for directions, but welcome to my life. Now I have to awkwardly listen to the three recordings of my interview answers, because N has to grade about 60 oral compte-rendus of my life, and it’ll save him a lot of time if I summarize what I said in case a student says, “She has ten cats and a zebra” when in fact I mentioned no such thing.