Is That All?

I had been doing pretty well with my blog since arriving in La Réunion… but it’s now been over a month since my last post. Luckily, there’s just time to post this so that I have something to show for the month of April.

Now, suddenly, it’s the final countdown. An assistant’s contract finishes at the end of April. I finished my work at the lycée last week (they had mock exams this week so I wasn’t required) and I had my last day at the collège – in fact, my last day as an assistant – today. I said my goodbyes, I returned my keys, I wiped away the tears… Okay, there weren’t any tears. But I did enjoy working as an assistant; it is a peculiar but largely enjoyable job.

A view from the lycée.
A view from the lycée.

As for the students, I felt like I had grown a small connection with some of the kids in both schools. This was limited, since most students I only saw once every fortnight, or less (as I alternated between halves of each class). With some classes, I struggled with names for much of the year. And there was the odd class, of course, that I was not at all sad to say goodbye to. All I can hope is that I had a positive impact. I hope that I have encouraged them a little, that I helped them a tiny bit, that I gave a decent impression of my culture… or, at least, that I haven’t discouraged them from learning English.

How will they remember me? At the lycée, I have ensured that my reputation for a certain lunchtime choice will live long in the collective memory of the staff room. As I pointed out to the English teachers, they have had so many English assistants over the years that it is probably difficult to stand out and to be remembered. But my unerring loyalty to chicken and rice will hopefully stand the test of time as the stuff of legend. As for the students, who knows.

'Edouard' - now I am truly French.
‘Edouard’ – now I am truly French.

What will I remember of them? Many of the elements that I’ve mentioned before – the Scrabble card games, the hellos, the blank expressions… Some of the interesting conversations that I had with the lycéens, who were often surprisingly good at English (British students take note). And then, probably the kids at the collège laughing in amazement at the long (well, normal in the UK) socks that I was wearing with my shorts on one of my first days there. Admittedly, it was a clear fashion faux pas, but I hadn’t yet discovered the wonders of ankle socks, which are of course standard uniform here.

And the highly entertaining and sometimes over-exuberant performances of a scene from Doctor Who, which I made the students re-enact, with the help of a script. Obviously, the prized role in each re-enactment was not that of the title character or his sidekick Rose, but that of the living plastic model creature things.

Anyway, it’s the end of April and it’s the end of the assistantship. I’ve been here for 219 days. 8 remain.



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