I felt like I was catching the final episode of a series I’d missed all season. I was plunged into a cast of characters (and they were characters) who were biting their nails and rehearsing what they were going to say. I was waiting to have my session with the jury for the “teacher thingey” I’ve alluded to a few times on the blog. In fact it’s what’s called a VAE here in France, a process whereby you can validate your experience gained during a job and get the diploma that goes with it. In my case it’s a diploma for teaching adults. While I had prepared two reports about my experience as a teacher, these students in the center had been going to classes for nine months to learn how to teach. They weren’t teachers yet but all had some skill that they wanted to teach: logistics, sales, transport, nursing assistant. They came from all walks of life and ranged in age from mid-twenties to late forties.
They were all friendly and chatty people. Stress can do that to you, make you chatty. And it seems some were eager to tell their story or worries to a new sympathetic ear like mine. There was the pale blonde, 40ish, who was stressing big time. She used to work in a photography shop and now wanted to teach sales techniques. Or the tanned and fit man from the sunny south of France, once director of a supermarket. He was now having to rethink his career, presumably after a lay-off, and the only program he’d found was here in the predominantly gray north of France. And there was the 30ish lady with dark curly hair and light blue eye-shadow who had her license for driving buses and now wanted to teach others that skill. She was the kind of tactile person who touched your arm ever-so-lightly as she talked and made you feel as if she’d known you forever.
Something in all those people’s faces and earnest talk made me root for them. I don’t know if they passed or not, but it seems life had thrown them all some curve-balls and they were just trying to get back in the game. Personal problems or lay-offs or work injuries had forced them to find new career paths. Like so many folks these days, they were just doing the best they could with a less than great situation.
As for me, my journey with the teacher thingey ended on a positive note. The jury awarded me the diploma and said they’d enjoyed talking with me. But it doesn’t really change much for me on a daily basis. At least my experience as an English teacher for nearly seven years now (gasp) has been recognized. I can also say all those Saturday afternoons I sacrificed Juliette’s naptime to check over docs instead of blog or clean or nap myself did pay off.
And I met some interesting people along the way who showed me that motivation and hard work are some of the best qualities we humans can develop. Good luck to those folks I met, wherever you are.