11 December 2010

They Don't Even Get It

I DON'T SPEND a lot of time being serious on this blog -- I prefer to have a little fun. But I was reminded again today of why this French Adventure is such a great experience. Not for me or Kerri -- but for our kids. So I'll take a minute to be serious...

As most people are aware, I teach at a large lycée that enrolls students who are working toward an international option of the french baccalaureate -- the Bac! That means a lot of things and it can be a bit confusing so I won't try to explain it (again), but the key point is that the nature of the school means that the students -- all 1700 of them -- come from incredibly diverse, international backgrounds. In any class I teach it is common to have students who come from five, six, or seven countries. And while most of my students are French, there are a huge number who speak more than two languages: french, English, and their mother tongue. The result is an incredible mix of culture and experiences. I see that every day, but my kids, who just started at the CIV this year, are beginning to see it first hand -- even though they don't know it.

This evening I took Patrick to a friend's house to work on an oral presentation that they have to give in French class on Mozart. Patrick is working with his friends Paul-Luca and Théo, who are both (obviously) in is class. But here is what is so great: all three of them are in different international sections (which basically means that they have literature and history is their section's language, but all the other classes in French). Paul-Luca grew up in Madrid so he is in the Spanish section; Théo's parents are Italian so he is in the Italian section; Patrick, of course, is in the American section. Now, this may not seem like an earth-shattering observation, and it probably isn't, but it was just so great to see three boys who come from totally different backgrounds working together in their second languages on a project about a Austrian composer. Julia has her project next week and it is possible she will have the same experience with friends who come from Holland, or Russia, or England, or Norway.

On the ride home I asked Patrick if he thought it was cool to have friends from so many different countries and backgrounds. He just looked at me and said, "Huh?" It doesn't even register with him. Or Julia. They're just used to it.

And that's fine with me.


cocopuff1212 said...

When it becomes so obvious that we are all different from each other, we realize that we actually *aren't* different at all. Those of us who grew up in mono-culture have to go through this two-step "realization" process, but your kids (and mine!) don't have to. What a gift.

chcmichel said...

I wonder if what your kids probably take for granted because that is all they know today would be sad/hard to lose if you return to MD someday. I know that I never fully appreciated the experience of living in Strasbourg while my dad was on a sabbatical until we were back in MI.