Life has a funny way of changing direction. Teaching English in Paris was never part of my plan. My life flipped upside down in the year of 2017 when my country, Dominica, fell subject to a major category 5 hurricane. I lost a lot of my material possessions and my house was badly damaged. Luckily, my family made it through the night, many others were not so fortunate. After this catastrophic event I realized that my plan which I had so carefully crafted out for my future would have to be modified.
Three long days after the hurricane I was evacuated to the UK as I am also a British citizen and had been living and working there prior to trying to move back home. This was also when I decided to re-spark things with my college sweetheart who had just moved to France. Lots of things happening at once, I know! We decided to take on the huge challenge of a long distance relationship. After about a year of going back and forth from England to France, we decided that maybe I should make the move for good. I have always loved it here, the culture, the passion, the language… the pastries!
How I Found Le Repertoire de Gaspard
We moved into a little apartment in a little village called La Ferté-Gaucher, about an hour and a half drive from Paris. Now, while economically this was the best choice there were not a lot of options work wise, especially not in my field. I had put out some feelers, but being an English speaker with only base level French I was a bit nervous about even applying for a French Job. This was when I found Le Repertoire de Gaspard. The first thing that caught my eye was that I didn’t need to speak French! Teaching English without needing French, perfect right?
I have a passion for working with children and so I saw this as the perfect opportunity to expand my expertise and gain working experience in France. Then I was told about the CAP program where I could even obtain a diploma in early childhood education as well as learn the French language. I was elated!
I was determined to make this a positive experience. I was going to give it my all!
My Daily Routine
Taking on the CAP program meant that I had to be present in classes from 9:00am-3:30pm. This meant that I had to leave home every day at 6:30am. Then as well as the classes I had my family work, where I would finish at 7:00pm. Add 2.5 hours to that for transport and voila! You have a 15 hour day! Yeah… way more intense than I had anticipated. Thankfully Le Repertoire de Gaspard pay up to 50% of travel costs which helped a lot!
The CAP Program
I have learned so much with this program. The teachers were fantastic and though the hours were long, I have gained more knowledge and experience than I could ever imagined was possible to fit into one year. I have taken away so much from this program. My skills for teaching English to children have expanded and grown so much. My French has greatly improved and i’ve made long lasting friendships and met people I will never forget!
Teaching English to Inès
Meeting Inès and the Olivier family had to be the best thing that could have happened to me that year. They have become like a second family to me. Inès is so smart and being able to see her English improve over the year has been incredible. Not just her English but all her skills. Her parents Hélène and Geoff have been amazing and have we have grown to be good friends. Not forgetting her baby brother Jacob who I have also been able to see grow tremendously, as my first day was 3 days after he was born. I couldn’t have been matched up with a better family.
Often I find myself trying to plan and organize everything to the very last detail. If only life was that simple. 2019-2020 Has shown me that life doesn’t always work out how you’ve planned and things get complicated and plans change. Through the MANY strikes in 2019 followed by COVID-19 I believe that this year has strengthened my character in ways that I could have never achieved without situations I faced, the people I met and the support I got.
“Do not pray for easy lives, Pray for stronger men” -Bob Marley
By Miriam Alexander