Friday, July 3, 2009


As I looked around the table yesterday at lunch at some of the people who have made these last two years living in a small town in France enjoyable, I smiled and thought 'I am so lucky.'

I'm lucky that my conseillère pedagogique has been so wonderful: picked me up at the train station, found me a medecin traitant (who I love), helped me open a bank account, helped me buy food for the first time in France (and several times after that), helped me get settled into my schools, always gave me wonderful teaching advice, and was always encouraging and supportive of the job I did.

I'm lucky that the inspector of my circonscription is a very nice man who intervened last year when I had a little problem at the lycée, and who agrees with me that English in the primary schools should be only oral and not written.

I'm lucky that the secretaries at the circonscription are delightful, helpful ladies who were always ready to lend a hand with everything paperwork related.

I'm so lucky to have been placed in V Town this year with a really stellar group of teachers and adorable students. I absolutely loved working in this school this year. The teachers there have given me a better image of the French school system, that it doesn't always have to be breaking down the child's self esteem and spirit, boring classes without any stimulating activities, schools where nothing has changed for the past 40 years. Too bad I didn't work there last year!

I'm so lucky that this year I've gotten to know C, who works for the RASED (travelling aides for students en difficulté, kind of like a tutor who comes to work with you during school). C and her family, who I've had the pleasure of dining with several times, are just as lovely as you could imagine. They have a beautiful family life and are very giving, caring people. And her husband downloaded Lost episodes for me all this season!

This is just an accounting of the thinking I was doing during the departure lunch we had yesterday, not at all a full summary of why I was so lucky to be placed in my small town. I really feel that I hit the jackpot in my assistant posting. Certainly it was not all roses and happiness, there were of course things that I didn't like and times when I was unhappy, but overall, I had a really great experience.

Especially when I consider the fact that Monday, July 6 will mark 5 years since I was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, the fact that I even got to France in the first place is amazing. The fact that I liked it enough to stay, and was able to stay for a second year, is even more amazing. Recently I've been thinking that my life is extremely unfair, that lots of bad stuff happens to me and people I know and why can't I stay another year when I really, really want to. This is not a line of thinking I ever gave into until recently, when it seemed like the bad things kept piling up and cancer related problems kept coming back to bite me in the ass. Seriously, five years later, why isn't it over yet? Why us? Why can't we just move on and live our lives?

But you know what? Life is unfair. Bad things happen to everyone. We should focus on what is good in our lives and try to work with the bad.

Considering the facts, I am really freaking lucky.


Andromeda said...

It is so nice to step back sometimes and realize "Hey! life is pretty great right now!" and I'm glad you were able to do that before you leave. Even at the very worst times here, I'm still in freakin France, and I try hard to remember it! You'll always have this experience to look back on as such a huge accomplishment, that no amount of future badness will be able to erase.

Ksam said...

I agree, when you're feeling down, it's always a good idea to step back and take stock of the good things in your life. And it's true, you've been able to do some pretty awesome things here!!

I can't believe you're not sticking around though, we will definitely miss you!

shannon said...

Such a nice post to read. What a great tribute to your two years in France.

Anonymous said...

congratulations! you've been through some difficult times but also had a great experience in France and sometimes its a good idea to look back on all the good things that have happened... it really puts things in perspective! The life experience you gained here is amazing, and that is something I have to keep reminding myself. All the very best for the next adventure!

au soleil levant said...

Thanks guys. We'll see if I can still be as positive when I get dragged kicking and screaming onto a plane without a promise of being able to come back again in the fall!

Zhu said...

I don't think it's just luck: you also worked hard, have a good attitude and followed your dreams!