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Archive for June, 2010

I first heard about Mango Languages about a year ago but never really got around to trying it out. But this week I decided to begin studying my third language (Spanish), and I figure I’d give this free, language-learning software a try. After only three days, I’m quite impressed at the amount of phrases I can not only pronounce but remember, and I wanted to make sure that other Louisianians were aware of this opportunity. You can study a myriad of languages at your own pace, and all you need is a Louisiana library card, the internet, and a computer with speakers. Find out more at http://mangolanguages.com/.  Good luck!

P.S. After a couple weeks of using this software, I still find it great but suggest combining it with your own study of grammar (whether from a textbook or from free lessons online) as this allows you to understand the general concepts behind the conjugations and phrases even more quickly.

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In the beginning, my intent was to create a blog that would chronicle my time as a language assistant in France. I planned to write about the lead-up, as well as the big, eight-month event itself. But I never thought I’d continue to post after things were well and done (a.k.a. I got back from France). But the more time I spend back in Louisiana, the more I come to realize that my “mission” is nowhere near from over. While in France, I discovered that my hometown, Ponchatoula, Louisiana, has had a French international sister city since 1989. And what’s even stranger – this city (Fontanil) is only a 10 minute drive from Grenoble (the French academie where I was placed), and that at the same

Welcome sign for all the Northern French visitors in Canterbury, England. Check out the recently released movie with a similar name, "Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis"

time I was going through teacher orientation, a group of Ponchatoula residents visited Fontanil to celebrate the 20th anniversary of our sister city relationship. I would have loved to be a part of this exchange, but didn’t even know that it existed! It is this gap in information that I am now on a quest to close, or at least fill a bit, so that other interested folks like myself can take advantage of the amazing opportunities around us.

I’d really love for this blog to become a dialog of French-lovers, French-speakers, or even just internationally-minded people in south Louisiana and abroad. I’ll do my best to keep you all updated on the events and resources that I come across, and please feel free to comment with your own suggestions as well.

Help me build the chain that will bridge our French/Cajun culture and heritage from the past with that of the present and future!

Sister City Updates:

Ponchatoula, Louisiana, is twinned with Fontanil-Cornillon, France (near Grenoble). I’m currently in the process of attempting to start up two-week, summer exchanges between high school students in our two cities. Will keep you posted on how it’s going!

Hammond, Louisiana, is twinned with Jouars-Ponchartrain, France (Ile de France – near Paris).

Gonzales, Louisiana, is twinned with Meylan, France (near Grenoble).

Calendar Updates:

The Cajun French Music Association (CFMA) in Baton Rouge held its monthly Cajun dance complete with a live Cajun band at the UCT Hall on the corner of Florida Blvd. and Sherwood Forest this past Friday. It was my first time attending, but I will be sure to make room for this event on my calendar in the future. It was a blast! The next dance is July 16th at 8pm (the theme is “Hawaiian Luau” and two-step lessons begin around 7pm if you need to brush up on your skills). Entry is $10 and you’ll see a wide range of ages in attendance (from little kids to “kids at heart”).

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Hey guys and gals. Just wanted to give you a heads up: if you’d like to read my last “Life in France” article in The Ponchatoula Times and don’t receive the paper edition, it’s currently online at http://www.ponchatoula.com/ptimes/. Just go to this site and click on the online edition. You can’t miss it!

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I have been back for just over a week now, and life hasn’t slowed down one bit. But this is good – great in fact. Because if I had nothing to occupy my time, the reverse culture shock would have already set in. If I keep going at this pace, however, I may be able to escape it for the most part. That would be amazing!

I flew back into the US from Dublin on the 27th. The next day I was a guest at a very interesting international board meeting, met the French Consul General of New Orleans, and even had the opportunity to speak in French! The following afternoon my ears were again treated to my favorite (and only) second language – hopefully soon to be followed by Spanish – as I was invited to a luncheon to meet several of Louisiana’s bright, new, teaching assistants headed to France this fall. Catching up with family and friends has also been a high priority – celebrated my littlest sister’s 13th b-day, and started the job search! And let’s not forget another love of mine: dancing! Tagged along to watch a salsa class on Tuesday and ended up even getting to take part. Then did some “real” dancing (salsa, bachatta, walze, rhumba, east/west coast swing) Friday night. I don’t seem to have jet-lag, though I’m not sure that my body truly realizes what time zone it is in nowadays because I keep waking up around 6am and not being able to fall asleep – even on weekends. Today woke up early again but managed to force myself to go back to sleep until 9am. Score! lol.

One other strange thing that has been happening to me has to do with coincidences. For two weekends in a row, I have met stragegic people one day, and then seen them again randomly at a restaurant one or two days later. And what’s even funnier, these restaurants are places I have never even been to! I have no idea what God has planned for my life at this time, but it sure does seem he’s trying to tell me something…

Excited about singing again and getting back into the French table swing of things (going to my first one in 8 months tomorrow night). Ordered some business cards which will hopefully be delivered soon, and have been trying to brush back up on my French by watching TV5 Monde – I wish I had known that this channel was available in Baton Rouge BEFORE I went to France, but at least I can use it for practice now. Also need to find an inexpensive source for good French books since I had to dump my beloved Harry Potter #5 (French edition) at the Malaga, Spain, airport. Had the pleasure of translating a few things this week, and now need to get started on a possible student exchange program with my hometown’s sister city. Looks like life after France may not be so bad after all!

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