Thursday 14 November 2013

a school

Story time in English with the Infant class
At the breakfast table a week or so ago, I was asked by a curious couch-surfer what brought me to the Pyrenees. So early in the morning and with a busy day of teaching ahead of me, I was initially stumped. As I drove to a neighbouring valley for my first lesson, I shifted through the layers of reasons, trying to pinpoint the exact reason: university, necessity, university...

Later in the week, I was invited to an evening of poetry in Esquièze, and I stumbled upon the real reason I came here: une ecole.

It is so long since I last set foot in that school as a visiting English Language Teacher that I had almost forgotten...

It was only a couple of years ago that I hang up my coat for the last time, but every time I walk past I feel I could reach out and open the door to that school, finding my seat and guiding the children through the basics of the English language. Change is inevitable and is of course hard. But were there not a constant stream of comings and goings in that little school, it wouldn't be such a wonderfully rich and dynamic place of learning and exchange.

This valley has been a place of so many firsts for me, sometimes it seems as if every gushing stream, jagged peak and rounded stone has been instrumental in shaping the course of my life.

And here, a school. My first as a teacher. Here in this hallway we helped the little ones out of their ski boots each morning in the winter. Here in the garden, we planted daffodil bulbs in the Spring. We lit candles in December and I taught the children to sing English Christmas carols. They scuttled in with their new pencils and school bags in the first week of September.

All so long ago now as to have been a dream. But it wasn't a dream. I have the evidence right here: "Oh Fran, tu venais nous voir quand on étais petit..."

I walk past that school, bump into pupils and parents almost every day. Perhaps that was the reason for the inexplicable deep sadness that filled my days since moving back here last year and until very recently.

I am no longer in my beloved school, but the memories will stay forever fresh.

Life has moved on and the children are growing up. But then if I take a moment to think about it, I realise that so am I, in both ways...

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