Are You Really American?

As I sit here at school making a packing list on the back of a 7th grade All About Me presentation rubric, Im thinking about how crazy it is to have a two week vacation three weeks into working. I like your work ethic, France.

Ive learned a lot in these first weeks. I’m happily adusting to most things and holding onto my American-ness on a few. Im slowly getting used to typing on a French keyboard. I am, however, majorly upset about the fact that no one here drinks coffee on the go. I lived with my tea tumbler in my hand in college. I have gotten used to chugging a cup of tea before I head out the door because I dont dare go caffeine-less to spend my day with middle schoolers. The post-lunch coffee break is a lifesaver.

Now that I’ve introduced myself to almost every English class in the school, whenever I walk down the hall between classes, I hear a chorus of “Hello Kaitleeen!” Carole said shes jealous because her sixth graders ask everyday “Is Kaitleen here today??” A tiny girl came running up to me at the end of the day today and said, “Kaitleeeen, est-ce que vous avez des animaux?” (Kaitlin, do you have any pets?) I had my phone in my hand so I showed her a picture of Micah (my yellow lab). She looked at the picture with big eyes and then said, “OK bye!” Fantastic.

One of the best things about being the only American in a small town is the questions I get asked about America (this school is in a small village outside of Bourg). One of the English teachers asked me during lunch today, “In American TV shows, people have American flags outside their houses. Is that real? Do you have one outside your house?” I thought about it and said, “Actually, yeah! They’re pretty common.” I learned that here, having a French flag outside your house signifies that you’re an elected official. Outside of the culturally enriching questions from my coworkers, there are the incredibly entertaining questions of the students. Here are some of my favorites from this week with the kiddos…

1. Est-ce que vous êtes vraiment américaine? Vraiment? / Are you really American? Really?
2. Et vous revenez à Boston chaque soir? / Do you go home to Boston every night?
3. Madame, are your shoes American? And your lunettes (glasses)? And your écharpe (scarf)?
4. If you’re foreign, why can you speak French?
5. So if I learn English, I can speak to anyone in America??
6. In America, do you get le vertige (dizzy) from the tall buildings?
I made a powerpoint earlier this week showing pictures of my friends and family in America. When I showed pictures of my friends, a boy pointed at various friends of mine and asked, “does he speak English? Does she speak English?”
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I just love it. I love that my nationality challenges them to think globally. I love the inquisitive ones and the ones who are curious but too cool to ask.

I have a feeling I’m going to say this many times throughout the year, but middle school is so marrant (comical).

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, now it’s vacation time! Im going to Italy tonight and I’ll be traveling for the next week and a half or so. I may update my blog once or twice while away, or I may profiter from the sun and Italian food and wait until I come home to France. On verra.
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5 thoughts on “Are You Really American?

  1. Thanks! Yeah… I imagine your set of challenges are slightly different as a lectrice! For now, I’ll enjoy my precious insqisitive ones and let you handle the older ones.

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