Oh the beauty of the human spirit, the universal language of kindness. As I write this, I am fully aware of the cliché of my statement – but I mean it. Every single cheesy syllable.
The moment I arrived in La Rochelle, two months ago tomorrow, I have been so moved by the acts of kindness bestowed upon me by men and women who were so willing to help this foreigner find her way and feel at home:
*Isabelle, my liason with the lycee and colleges, picking me up the afternoon I landed in France, giving me a spare bed for my new apartment, helping me sort through what has seemed like a mountain of paperwork.
*Isabelle N., an English teacher at the college, who has given me an assortment of knick-knacks, mugs, dishes, silverware, and bath-mats for my studio. And every time I enter her room, she greets me with a wonderfully big smile that makes me feel like I’ve always belonged here.
*Renee, a French woman who sings in the La Rochelle Community choir, found out that I was a new resident of France, and within five minutes of meeting, had thrust her address and phone number in my hand. We carpool to choir, and we’re going to start meeting for french conversation ‘practice’ in the afternoons.
*That guy in the train station who let me sneak into the bathroom without paying (yes, that’s how it works here…) on my first day, as I was ‘juggling’ two fifty-pound suitcases.
*People who patiently listen to my simple sentences, smile encouragingly and say ‘for an american, you speak good french!’
As Thanksgiving week approaches in the United States, I can’t help but think about these wonderful blessings that I’ve found in my new home: from my english teachers to the incredible community of assistants in the Charante-Maritime region, I have a lot to be thankful for.
Loved ones in the U.S. - thank you for being a phenomenal support system. While I am enjoying this new adventure, I'm so lucky to have a wonderful group of people to return to at the end of the journey.