Celia and Nathan finished their two weeks of French lessons on Friday! They not only excelled in the class learning to count to infinity and beyond, but also how to say (or understand!) "sit down" "be quiet" and the all important "I don't understand"
They met a real international group of kids...two British boys - Tim and Sam - a girl from Slovakia - Alexandra - and a local French boy - Ange-Alexandre (and you always call him by both!)
Since the kids were in French lessons during the day at the school, I decided to volunteer (I know that is such a stretch for me!) to help distribute the books and supplies that the Parent's group sold for a fund raiser. I thought it would be just like the WUEF fundraiser with an international twist...I forgot that when I looked at the supplies list mailed to me, I was only able to identify solidly the scissors, pencils and pens. It is truly an understatement to say the French enjoy their paper products and school supplies. A child in CM1 which is third grade had a carton bigger and heavier than I could lift containing all of the supplies necessary for this school year. And all of them were to be brought to school the first day! They are specific down to the size of the grid on the paper and the weight of the paper for each class. Needless to say, Celia is in seventh heaven. She LOVES school supplies...yet even she cannot fathom what she will be doing with 500 plastic sleeves for her notebook (not a hyperbole!)
I had a wonderful time meeting about one half of the parents in the school and some of the students in Celia and Nathan's class. We met a family from New York that has been here for two years, a British family who lives just a few streets from us in Sussargues, a boy named Benjamin who looks like a freckle-faced American who just happens to be French and is in Celia's class and many others who warmly welcomed us and we look forward to getting to know better.
I worked with Noele (who immediately exclaimed that our names together were Merry Christmas!) and Helene Lini (whose name is always pronounced as "elanini") They were such a delightful pair of French women to sit and talk to for two days of this project. Noele looks as if she is from the Swiss or German side of France...Taller than I, strong and honey blond...she looks like she could handle any task thrown at her from chopping wood to whipping up an omelet. She is a powerhouse of a fun personality. She had the kids all playing a fun word game within the first ten minutes of talking to them.
Helene Lini is the exact opposite in appearance from Noele...she is the classic chic impossibly petite French woman that would take the world by the tails. She is over the top dramatic with the three kisses doled out liberally and the cell phone calls on her incessantly ringing mobile. When she is on stage with her cell phone, it is with an incredibly loud voice and in a pose that you cannot help but admire. She stands straight as a board with her feet firmly planted, one hand on a hip and the other holding the cell phone to her ear with elbow perfectly pointed straight out...her chin pointed straight to the ceiling she belts out melodic peals of chirpy French to whoever the deaf person is on the other end...usually her husband. She is a hoot! Her emails and her conversations are gushing and - female or male - the recipient feels so terribly special to have been honored with her attention.
Needless to say, my favorite activity of people watching is satisfied daily!! I love watching the full of life greetings as if every person is the long lost friend you have been waiting for, the kisses being thrown about to everyone in the crowd and the hands that wave wildly in the air to punctuate every point. The women are fun and charming and delightful conversationalists.