Well, week one down of teaching and now I'm just waiting another week until I have vacation. Yes, vacation! Twelve splendid days of not making a 90-minute commute! Gotta give it to the French for the vacation thing..I'm definitely okay with two weeks of vacay every six weeks.
As for the teaching, I started last Monday and it went okay. I teach 15, count it, 1-5 different classes, so keeping up with the grades (I teach 2nd-5th) and then each class within the grades (some get along farther than others) is a challenge! The first week was pretty easy because I was just kind of seeing their levels, going over the "Hello, how are you?" "What's your name?" "How old are you" genre of conversation. The little kids I have (CE1--French equivalent to 2nd grade) have never taken English, but a lot of them still knew colors and numbers from who knows where; a few knew "My name is.." Overall, it's a bit frustrating because there's so many kids that I have to keep track of and there's so many levels. And to add to that, here's a sampling of names that I have to try to pronounce/remember:
Mustafa (like the Lion King, ha!)
And those are easy ones.
I'm so very impressed by the kids and all the languages they speak. As a language-enthusiast, I'm more jealous than anything--they're like sponges. One girl on Friday told me she speaks FIVE languages fluently! French, German, Portuguese, Arab and one other I can't remember. Surprisingly, a good number of kids speak German, so it comes as no surprise that they are already ahead due to the similarities to English. Is it bad that I just want to speak to them in German instead of English? Steh auf! I mean, um, stand up!
I wish I could take pictures of the school and get permission to follow one of these kids home. They live in what is called la cité, basically a whole neighborhood of projects. There is a fresh market once a week in the center, and both the schools I work at are surrounded by these kids' homes. Many of the kids never leave la cité, let alone the town, which is only a 30-minute train ride to Eastern Paris. Anyway, it would make a great photo essay. Unfortunately, the French have some of the strictest laws in Europe against taking photos without permission. Especially for kids. If I want to take any pictures, their faces can't be visible. And if I do want to take a picture of their face, I have to get permission from a whole hierarchy of people, starting with the préfécture, down to the parents. So, yeah. Might not be possible. But I was talking to a teacher about it and I don't know, maybe I can work something out. Might not be easy, but I really would love to do it. I'll have look more into it. If it's just for my portfolio, and the images won't be published, I'm not sure if the rules apply?
So to tie photography to today, I went to Le Salon de la Photo, a photo fair in Paris not far from my house. All the big names were there--Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Pentax, Manfrotto, Adobe, etc. ad inf. It was huge. And also, 3pm on a Saturday.
It was cool to be surrounded by all the coolest new gadgets, but photography is an expensive hobby so it was lots of window shopping for me! I also listened to a photojournalist talk about a few different assignments he had--in Japan, Iran, Mexico and Siberia among others. It was really interesting and it made me realize how much I'd like to do that as a career. The guy himself, Guillaume Herbaut, said it was a hard career to get in--like a lot of things, it's being in the right place at the right time, knowing someone who knows someone, who knows someone..depressing! Guess I need to starting meeting some people who know someone, hmm?