Parlez-Vous Francais?

Young Alums Teaching in France

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Ressing hopes that her seven months in France is the first step in a career abroad. “I wanted to improve my French speaking, reading and writing skills because I would like to work in an international field, and I knew it would be difficult to maintain my language skills after college,” says the native of York, N.Y.

An international studies and French major at Susquehanna, Ressing would like to work with a university study-abroad office or with international university students. Like Freed, she saw the year after graduation as the perfect chance to pick up and move. She was placed in an elementary and middle school in Guingamp, a town in Brittany in northern France.

“One of my favorite parts of teaching has been the questions I am asked—specifically by the elementary school students. Some examples are: ‘Do you sleep in America every night? Did you arrive in a helicopter? Do you receive gifts on Thanksgiving? Are there movie theaters in America?’”

Th ough she has struggled with French bureaucracy and red tape, some things are easier in France—like travel. Ressing lives close to a high-speed train stop, so she can be in Paris in just over three hours to meet with the other teaching assistants from Susquehanna.

Butensky, who previously studied in France, thinks that his stay in Boulogne-sur-Mer, a northern seaport city, will bring him a moment of clarity to help him decide on his future.

“If I’m ever going to find my ‘aha’ moment, I’m fairly certain that it will be during my stay here in Boulogne-sur-Mer,” says Butensky, an international studies major and French and speech communications minor from Harrisburg, Pa.

Sharing an apartment with a university student from the Alps region of France has given Butensky a full immersion in French culture and language.

“Every day I learn something interesting about France or the French language,” he says. “I feel fortunate to be back in France again and to be able to discover a new region. There is also really no other way to get a better command of a foreign language.”

Boulogne-sur-Mer is off the beaten path for the average American tourist, so most of Butensky’s fellow elementary school teachers don’t speak English. The language barrier has made learning a new educational system a little more challenging, but he says that challenge is all part of the experience.

“Partaking in this experience is changing the way I see certain things. For starters, challenges are to be expected but can often be confronted or at least tackled,” he says.

By Kate Weller '03, web content manager

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