Laurel Prince gradutated from Kalamazoo College in 2014.
Q: What have you been doing since you graduated K?
A: I was in Saint Etienne, it’s a mid-sized village about 45 minutes by train from Lyon. I was an English teaching assistant with TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France), a program sponsored by the French government to increase language performance in mainland France and the French overseas departments.
Q: What did an average day look like for you?
A: On an average day I carpooled to the high school where I worked with my French colleagues, taught three or four different classes to students ranging in age from fifteen to twenty-one, took a two hour lunch break with the Austrian and English assistants at my school, then headed home to the apartment I shared with two French students. Every day was a different story, some days I only technically worked one hour (Tuesdays), with one of my most advanced classes. We spent the time playing taboo, watching New York Times videos and discussing current events including the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Fridays I finished work by noon and spent my afternoon tutoring a Air France stewardess who was hoping to improve her English for work. Assistants only teach 12 hours each week so most of us supplemented our time with private tutoring or other activities—I took a West Indies dance class every week!
Q: What would you do in your free time?
A: On weekends I was free to prepare activities and socialize. There were twenty or so other international assistants in my town, teaching English, German, Spanish and Italian, and we gathered to eat French treats and chat often. I travelled to Munich for New Years Eve with another K 2014 alum who was working as an Au Pair in Geneva, visited Barcelona and Paris with two K alums participating in the same program as I, and travelled to Spain with my French boyfriend.
Q: What was a particularly memorable day?
A: I hosted Thanksgiving with twenty people in Saint Etienne. The meal was prepared by five K alums who travelled from all across France to search for a Turkey, carry pies down French streets and share the holiday with our new French friends!
Q: What are you doing now that you’re back in the United States?
A: Now I’m back in Seattle and piecing together a couple different things. The most exciting is I’m working in the Seattle Public Schools teaching French to 2nd and 3rd graders as part of a complete immersion program! As of now they believe I speak no English…no small feat. We have been focusing on simple greetings, numbers and colors since it’s their first year learning French.