This week at CIPEC I taught the students about Halloween again! They loved my presentation last week so this week I read two more books and taught them a few Halloween songs. I conducted my lesson outside in the forest because all of the students associate Halloween with the small chateau where the witch “lives”. Even though we were outside and there were so many distractions, the students were all extremely attentive. Even though they often have small outbursts, I’m always so impressed by how well behaved my group of 3-4 year olds are. I taught the students vocabulary such as ghost, witch, goblin, pumpkin, jack-o-lantern, costume, trick-or-treat, and scary. They all though jack-o-lantern was a terribly funny word and insisted on calling in the Jacques pumpkin because our bus driver’s name is Jacques. He definitely got a kick out of hearing that story.
After teaching my lesson, the students had free time outside. This gave me a chance to get to know the students better. I asked many of the students if they had siblings and what their siblings’ names were. Many students had demi-siblings who were much older than them or didn’t live in their house. I didn’t realize how many students were from mixed families and found it so interesting that the students always made sure to decipher between their demi siblings and their biological siblings.
I also had the chance to talk to Marie-Christine about the students in the class. During my lesson one of the children started talking about his grandmother and before I knew it, everyone was talking about his or her grandparents. One student said that her grandmother’s name is nonna, which Marie-Christine explained is the Italian word for grandmother. After my lesson Marie-Christine explained that this student was French “but she was actually Italian”. She pointed out a few other students who were “French but more something else”, excluding the international students. I found this extremely interesting because nationality isn’t discussed in this way American classrooms. Because everyone is a different nationality in America, no one is singled out for being different. Marie-Christine was of course not discriminating against these students in any way. The way she talked about them not being French was so matter of fact and seemed like basic facts I should have already noticed. Besides talking with Marie-Christine about nationality, I also encountered an interesting situation regarding racism with a student.
On the bus ride home I was sitting behind two Indian boys who were fighting. One boy was yelling at the other boy for being “too brown”. He told the other boy that he was better than him because he was lighter and that the other boy “disgusted him”. I immediately broke the two boys up and was so shocked by how they were speaking to each other. In America, for the most part, everyone is very careful to be extremely politically correct in public. Here in France, I’ve noticed that political correctness is not a priority. Through conversations I’ve had with my host mom and with French students I’ve realized that this is simply the way their culture is. Of course the two boys were wrong to say the things they did but they probably picked up those phrases from their parents or by walking around Aix.