Now you're headed to France as a volunteer with GeoVisions and you are wondering what to pack. You want to "blend in," right? You've told yourself that you can't possibly stick out the entire time and look like a tourist. And you really do want your host family to take you places, so the last thing you want to do is embarrass them. I get it. This Blog post is directed straight at you. It will help you a lot.
The first advice I'd give is to look at the photos of your host family. What are they wearing? This would be a really great clue on what types of clothes to pack.
The next thing you could do is check the host family out on Facebook. Hey! They've checked you out, so return the favor. I'm going to write an entire Blog post about the numbers of tutors we've lost this year thanks to their Facebook photos. Oh do I have stories to share with you about what host families find on Facebook pages. So this is a HINT to go clean up your Facebook page. While you're doing that, see if you can find your new host family on Facebook too. Get some ideas about where they like to go, what they like to do and how they dress.
The last thing you can try is simply ASK THEM! You have their email address and phone number. Just ask. Hey…they're taking you in, housing you, feeding you and trusting you to teach them some English. So just fire off that big question: "Hi! This is Sally! I want to pack the appropriate clothes and I was wondering if you could email me back with some ideas that would fit your family." When I ask for help, I always receive it. But results may vary.
Here are some other suggestions you can try:
1. Eat Like The French
The French LOVE McDonads. Do NOT sit in a cafe and enjoy your meal allowing time for it to digest. The French don't enjoy wine either, so buy one of those Giant SuperSize Me cups of Pepsi with your Mickey D. And then be sure to run around all the tourist spots in Paris eating the burger and fries. You'll get some nasty looks, but they are only jealous of your Big Mac.
2. Wear Expensive Sneakers
When you put on those white socks and expensive running shoes, you'll feel right at home in France. The French love those things. The only thing they love more are your Teva sandals. They covet them and might actually knock you over and take them right off your feet. Be careful. And if your running shoes are big and chunky enough, you'll be taller than all French people and they will admire that.
3. Flaunt Yourself
I'm suggesting any T-shirt with a cute saying, or a shirt with all the cities of the tour from your best band listed down the back, or a color photo of someone you admire. I take that back. Wear the one that says, "I Heart Paris." The French will love you. Baseball caps that read, "USA" go over real well.
4. Day Travel Accessories
While over-stuffed backpacks are the rage in France, the one thing all the French wear is a fanny pack. You will find these under the most expensive business suits and on people sitting at the outside cafes. They especially like designer fanny packs or anything brightly colored. Just be sure to wear it on your front, so you are not a target for pick pockets and thieves.
5. Dress Like The French
The first thing you have to do is buy a real French beret. Then, never take it off when you're in France. All the French people wear them. And if it starts to rain, pull out that large umbrella with the drawing of the Eiffel Tower on it. But careful now, someone may actually think you're French and start asking you for directions.
So there you have it. How to not stick out as a tourist in France.
I mean, are you going trust me? Or are you going to trust your host family?In all seriousness, do you have other ideas for everyone headed to France? Serious ideas, that is? Please add them to our comments section below.
Fridays are fraught with a dose of reality. If I get a bill I want to dispute, it comes too late on Friday to do much about it. If I plan a family outing, it rains. My dog always gets sick on a Friday and I have the call the emergency number for the vet and that costs $50 more.
So this Friday, Sue Ann Young (yes, I'm using her last name) sent GeoVisions a link to her Smilebox. I've never heard of Smilebox. Turns out it's an Internet scrapbook of sorts. So anyway, I clicked on Sue Ann's link. She's a member of the Conversation Corps. In France. She's living with a family and tutoring Adeline and Emile in conversational English. Sue Ann is volunteering 15 hours a week to this family in France so the two girls can improve their English. For that she gets free room and board. In Séné. Pretty much on the coast. Stunning.
Well here...you be the judge. Here is the link to Sue Ann's Smilebox. Here's what you do:
1. Click the link and let Smilebox load in your browser.
2. Move the Slow to Fast button to S L O W.
3. Press Play.
If it isn't Friday when you read this and try it...go for it.
If it IS Friday, go ahead and do it anyway. It isn't like you're going to dispute the slides.
If you like what Sue Ann is doing and if you like how she's communicating her trip you can let her know by leaving her a message. I did. I liked it. Not my message. Sue Ann's Smilebox. It actually did make me smile.
I'm a real sucker for stuff like this. I'd like you to encourage Sue Ann. Leave her a message and wish her well. Encourage her to post more photos. Let her know you are proud that she's taking this huge step to travel abroad, live for 2 months with people she's never met, and tutor two young ladies in conversational English.
I did. Even on this Friday. Here is the message I left for Sue Ann:
Dear Sue Ann,
I could not be more proud at this moment. What a great way to begin your Conversation Corps assignment. I was fine until I saw the photo of Adeline and Emilie. It hit me right then what Conversaton Corps members like you bring to a family and to the lives of those you touch and help. I was just so proud to be a part of the program. And when I got to the slide of "How could you not want to paint the red sails?" I just sat back and thought...I have the coolest job in the world. Quite literally.
This happens each day in 15 countries, Sue Ann. I guess I take it for granted. I won't today. Thank you so much for sharing this with us and your talents with the world.
Andrew Kolodey is one of GeoVisions' Conversation Corps tutors in France. He started up a Blog: Gonna Travel Well. We recommend you check it out and follow Andrew as he explores France and lives with a family in France and teaches them English.
Check it out and let know Andrew you're following him. Here's the link:
Have fun and tell Andrew we say "hey."
From The Tutor
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2009 11:00:53 -0500
Subject: teaching an active 7 year old boy
I am living with a host family in Wasquehal France, and working primarily with two boys: one aged 7 and one aged 10. I brought a cookbook and a few issues of National Geographic for Kids with me, and the 10 year old and I have been working through those, in addition to his English homework from school.
The 7 year old is very active and not very 'into' sitting still. To this end, I was thinking that teaching him some songs that involve few words but lots of movement would be a good way to teach him. This past week, he learned "Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes," and I am thinking of starting "The Hokey Pokey" or "If you're Happy and you know it" today--probably the former, because we can review some of the body parts from "Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes." I was wondering if you had suggestions for other such songs, or other ideas of more active ways to teach a seven year old!
Thank you so much for your help,
From Help Me Teach
Thank you for writing. Congratulations on your new adventures in Wasquehal, France. I can appreciate your situation with two active youngsters. For how long will you be with the family?
You are doing just fine with the 10-year old, as I would suspect he is quite interested in getting ahead in English language studies in school. Working with him in English in other studies should also be of help to him.
The 7-year old is a different situation, as you have found. As an active person, anything active should be of interest to him. Attention span will be short, so frequent changes in activities will be good. Your idea of songs is excellent, as they all require activity and language acquisition. Another path can also be "I see with my little eye....." something (color, big, small, outside, inside, etc.), which can also build vocabulary and be fun. What level of English do the two boys have? I suspect the older boy is learning in school as a matter of course. The younger boy is not yet there. Is there any way of bringing both boys together in what the elder is learning?
Although familiar with France, I am unfamiliar with your town. Would it be of help to talk with the English teacher in the school? Are there coloring books and children's easy story books in the local bookstores?
Weather permitting, outdoor activities are always good for either child. Park visits as vocabulary builders are always good. Weather, time, directions, colors, objects, animals. One list a day and then go forth to find them in a sort of scavanger hunt. Rearranging the alphabet can always be fun if the person is given a series of letters and tries to form diffeent words. Many can be similar to French, which can be even more challenging.
I have attached some materials and web sites that might be of help. Let me know if they get through to you and what might be of help. Also, it would be great to learn what you are doing that has worked in your particular situation.
Hope this is of help. I would be interested to learn more of your situation and whether the information provided is of any help.
I sincerely hope that all goes well there and that spring is happening. Please do let me know what works and doesn't.
When we call you our hero, do you feel like a hero?
I would have never considered myself a hero, and had never really thought about volunteering as such. I considered my stay in France as a shared opportunity - I taught and they shared their life with me. Almost like we were heroes to each other in a sense, my host family and myself. I feel good about myself and what I accomplished, but never really thought of it as hero status - until now.
How do you remind people there is still a lot of work around the world we all need to accomplish?
I consider my accomplishment small in the grand scheme of things, but I try and get as many people as possible interested in volunteer work.
What one positive impact did your volunteer work have (no matter how large or small) while you were there?
I was able to watch somebody learn something I taught. This was huge for me. I didn't graduate with a teaching major, and quite frankly thought of myself as a lousy teacher in something not-quite technical like language. I was filled with a sense of accomplishment from watching some one become proud of themselves because of me.
Please take a moment to share one "moment" with us that gives you goose bumps, brings a tear, makes you smile, warms your heart from your volunteer experience.
It warms my heart that the family I lived with treated me like one of their own. I had many opportunities to meet the whole family, and every single member was kind and accepting of me.