Just the other day, I got a message from a former student as she is traveling in Paris with her family. It was a photo of her with a young woman of her own age with a background of the Champs-Elysées. Both were smiling and one of my former student’s children was in the photo with them. I thought to myself that the person with her had to be her ‘correspondante,’ or pen pal, the person who came to stay with here in the United States for two weeks way back when and then with whom she stayed while in the Strasbourg area for two weeks. I couldn’t remember her correspondante’s name. Maggie instant texted me back to give me her name.
My reaction? Not so much surprise but an absolute thrill. Thrilled that all of the work and efforts we made for New Trier in France were still paying off. Not only did students have a chance to exercise their language ability, they had a glimpse into another culture first hand and a person with whom to make a connection. It doesn’t always work, mind you, sometimes we are not at the proper moment in our lives to be open and sometimes the chemistry, despite our efforts, is not there, but this time it sure seemed to be working. Here it is years later and there had to be some maintenance of the connection, so much so that they met in Paris.
You have to love these moments and I am so thankful that Maggie (not her real name) contacted me with the news that this reconnection had been made. Over the years, I have heard of this happening countless times and I am sure that many of the times are even unknown to me.
My only sadness here is that the program, that we had moved along to the point of being a total exchange and ‘twinning’ of two schools, is no more. The program that we had was dismantled for many reasons, one of them being that some of my former colleagues were not interested in the exchange, something I don’t understand at all, and were not happy that it was in Alsace. One colleague stated at one point in time, « Alsace is not even France! » So much for enlightened language teachers.
I tried and I did my best and we thought we had a winning scenario. Maggie, contacting me with a photo, provided me with a most wonderful gift. Thank you, Maggie.