Teaching Traveling: Curious about how to live and teach abroad in France? Laura Willis has some advice! Laura, tell about your background.
Laura: My name is Laura, a 25-year-old teacher and student from Iowa. I moved to France in 2013 as part of the TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France) program where I was placed in three elementary schools in Western France.
After one year of teaching, I wasn’t ready to leave. Everything about France and teaching excited me. Going to the post office or getting a haircut in a different language was challenging and felt like a major accomplishment. I enrolled to do a Master’s program the following year, and moved to the French Alps. After three wonderful years teaching in France, I am now back in the United States, living in Boston and working at the French Consulate.
TT: Love it! Tell us more about your travels.
L: I never quite had the “finding yourself, backpack through Europe,” experience, but in three years, I have lived in several parts of France, taking teaching jobs here and there. After teaching elementary school children, I worked in a private business English school. One day my boss asked if I could go out for a teaching assignment… to the local French army.
I was hesitant to teach the army because of my flaming liberal political views. I felt nervous arriving with tanks and armed guards. I told them I was the English teacher and a 6’5″ soldier smiled and offered me an espresso.
Teaching the military after a year of singing “I’m a Little Teapot” and the “ABCs” was quite comical. I had the opportunity to interact with people I thought I would never step into a room with.
Teaching English helped us to get to know one another in an atmosphere that was much more relaxed, helping to see that despite political angles that people are just people.