My French journey began in 3rd grade at Brearley with Madame de Laperousse. I did not know at that time that this was a language that I would grow to truly love. I remember lots of songs, games and worksheets with verb tenses. I remember all of my French teachers after Madame de Laperousse; Madame Perrette, Madame Foy and Madame Camille, who was from Haiti. Before I knew it, I was speaking French. In 10th grade, I received a scholarship to study at a little school called College Cevenol in the south of France. It was there that I learned that French boys were loads of fun and that total immersion was the best way to learn a language. I spent two weeks in Paris with a family friend after my stay in the South, fell head over heels in love with Les Halles, and realized that France was a place that I had to visit once again.
Enter Wellesley. My mom is from Togo, so my initial desire to learn to speak French came from wanting to communicate with my family members in a language other than Ewe, which I can't speak. My dream was to take classes about French speaking people all over the Diaspora, which I did. In high school, I wanted to become a diplomat, or study linguistics. At Wellesley, my heart ran towards French and Africana Studies. Each class was utter bliss; I met a woman who inspired me to no end, Professor Michèle Respaut. Brilliant, petite, funky, classy, funny, you name it; she was everything I wanted to be. As I write, tears come to my eyes because of the profound impact she has had on my life. With her, I traveled to Aix en Provence, fell in love with French even more and an Algerian motorcycle-riding, soccer-playing, garbage collector, which is partially why my French improved so much. I made great friends, from my roommate Hannah Chung, to students like Jennifer Schram, a fellow junior-year-abroad student from another university. I spoke French endlessly, rode on a Triumph motorcycle and even (after a dare) sang at a café on the Cours Mirabeau, which is a memory I will never forget.
French at Wellesley was not just about learning a language. It was about being given the gift of something that would give me connecting abilities. French connected me to my family, to the true love of my life, my husband, who is of Haitian descent, to cab drivers of all races and to people from my church all over the world. But really, my French experience is what inspired me to become an educator. The high that I received from learning everything about this language is something that I think about when I teach. It is something I want to replicate as soon as I see the face of a student. I have been working in elementary schools as teacher and more recently as an administrator for 18 years. I am now training to become a principal. I want to give and share this high; this inexplicable high with those around me. I am able to do so by training teachers to make learning as exciting as it has been for me, both in school and as a volunteer for International Youth Fellowship; a faith-based organization that I volunteer for. As I write, I am on a mission trip teaching English to Mexican students. My knowledge of French has made it so much easier to understand Spanish. My love of French and the understanding that it takes a great deal of courage to learn another language, has given me the heart to teach, both on mission trips and in classrooms in the States, with empathy. Merci mille fois, Wellesley. I pray to touch others in the way that you have touched me.