Pre-K Teacher, LPECC
I was born in Belgium, in the small city of Mons. I always wanted to work in education. When I was a child, I loved to teach my dolls, and when I was 18, I started studying to become a teacher. After graduation I did not feel confident enough to take charge of a class full of students, so I then pursued study in speech therapy. I worked as a speech therapist for a few years with children from 3 to 18 years old. I also worked as a freelancer and in different schools, and even worked in one for children with specific needs.
I had the opportunity to work in a school in Switzerland, in a French area called Fribourg. It was a beautiful experience. I was able to discover different pedagogy and curricula. For personal reasons, I needed to return to Belgium where I worked with teenagers with specifics need in Brussels.
This type of teaching was very interesting, but I wanted more! I wanted to discover more and share more with others. I had already heard about CODOFIL and I finally decided to apply. CODOFIL is the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana. Our mission as Louisiana's French agency is to support and grow Louisiana's francophone communities through scholarships, French immersion, and various other community and language skill-building programs. I thought it would be a great challenge and an amazing opportunity to develop such a beautiful language on another continent. I could share my culture and knowledge as well as learn in return!
Outside of my work/school life, I like traveling. I try to go out every weekend (or almost) to discover an American state. The U.S.A. is so big and full of wonder. I also like reading, listening to music, cooking, or simply having a good time with friends. I have a sister who is three years older than me and a wonderful niece. My niece is the same age as my students. It’s a really amazing age for children due to how fast they learn!
What made you want to come to America? What are your impressions so far?
I’ve been interested in coming to the United States for many years. But, the most difficult step was taking the plunge. In 2012, I came to visit friends for a short period. I was intimidated by this gigantic continent. After a lot of reflections, more maturity, and more professional experiences, I found I was ready to apply with CODOFIL. So, my adventure began!
I wanted to work with young kids and CODOFIL found this for me in the beautiful city of Ruston!
My colleagues in the CODOFIL program looked at me with compassion when I announced that I was going to the north of Louisiana, but I’m really glad to be here. Ruston is a nice city, the people are welcoming, and I like the warm local shops. I can’t believe how fast the time is going here! I still have so many things to do and see in Ruston and America! But life is nice! I like the food and the hot weather in the summer. I also like the practical side of America: everything is so easy! You can drive with one foot, drive through everything, and you can go shopping at midnight or five a.m. I have seen amazing landscapes and met nice people too.
What do you love about and miss about Mons? What do you want people to know about your home?
I miss my family and friends the most! They can’t come this year so it will be a long time before I see them. Thankfully, new technology helps to ease the problem.
Belgium is a beautiful country but Mons is just wonderful! I advise everyone to travel there one day!
Like I like to say, “It’s a rainy country but the sun is in the hearts of the people!” The ability to laugh at ourselves is the main characteristic of the Belgian people.
We have a lot of good things in Belgium and I speak, of course, about food: Belgian waffles, French fries (yes, the best French fries are in Belgium!), chocolate, cuberdon (cone-shaped candy), speculoos (spiced shortcrust biscuit), mussels, shrimp tomatoes and more! If you like beers, you will be charmed by our more than 200 varieties of beer. There is a whole beer heritage and culture to discover in the abbeys, walks, picturesque villages, and city stories.
In Belgium, there are a multitude of grand places. It’s also nice because you can park your car outside the city and walk inside the city to go do some shopping, sit in a terrace and have a drink, or eat in a good restaurant. We have a lot of good restaurants in Belgium! Italian food is probably my favorite! You can also discover a ton of museums. In Brussels, for example, there is the museum of musical instruments, the tram museum, the comic strip museum, the Magritte museum (painter), and the museum of gueuze (a typical brusselaire beer).
There are a lot of festivals in Louisiana, but Belgium can hang too! The Belgians know how to party! In Mons, in May and June, everybody celebrates “Le Doudou.” It’s a popular festival that happens fifty-seven days after Easter. Currently, it is recognized as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity since 2005. The Doudou consists of a ritual Ducasse (during which the “leader” of the city fights a dragon) and a festive Ducasse with a bunch of concerts, music festivals, and processions.
What has been your favorite unit so far this academic year and why?
I can’t choose a favorite moment. The weeks pass but none are alike, and I love all the moments spent in my class. Every moment is special. To teach the French language to the students every day is a marvelous opportunity and each day I’m a little more impressed by their curiosity and their competence.
The beginning of the year was great because I met the students of the first French immersion program and discovered their personalities. During the fall, they taught me how celebrate Halloween. During the winter, I shared with them the Belgian feast "Saint-Nicolas."
I love the moments of sharing that we can have. The students are proud to tell me about their country and I love to share with them my European culture. We speak French, we sing, we cook, we look at photos and videos of Belgium. It's so fun!
What do you love about LPECC?
LPECC is a great school, and I’m very lucky to be surrounded by such good people. First, I was very well received by the members of the team! And believe me, when you arrive on a new continent, it's important to be welcomed. It’s a school with a human dimension, the atmosphere is good, everyone gets along well, and the staff is very competent. My class is beautiful and well equipped. Everything is set up for the well being of the children. It is so genial, and nothing is left to chance; everything is thought of for children to evolve and grow in a favorable environment. In short, I could not dream of better!
What are your goals for the students at the end of this year in terms of their French language skills?
I would like my students to feel comfortable with the French language at the end of this school year. Hopefully they will be able to express themselves and introduce themselves, as well as know a basic vocabulary, their alphabet, and numbers. They will even know a few songs! They will develop skills to understand many things in French, including instructions and basic conversation.
Why should parents enroll their children into the French immersion program?
French is such beautiful language, of course, but there are even more reasons to learn it. One of the best ways to start another language, especially if it’s not already spoken in the home, is language-immersion learning. When they have direct access to native speakers and the ability to use a language in the context of social cues, young learners are most likely to be impacted long term by the language.
As you already know, French is an integral part of your heritage in Louisiana. Indeed, Louisiana is one of the few regions in America where French is a heritage language. It is part of the culture! We sometimes
find grandparents who still speak French. The language can be linked to music, food and history.
More than 270 million people speak French on five continents! The French language has all the characteristics of a world language! Foreign language study at an early age leads to improved academic performance in all subjects, improves a student’s ability to focus, and provides priceless opportunities to study foreign cultures.