Thomas A. Bledsoe
Number of posts: 8
Email address: email
By Thomas A. Bledsoe:
The opening question of the second Presidential debate, a town hall style forum where audience members directly posed questions to both candidates, came from a 20 year old college student looking for assurances about his job prospects upon graduation from college. “All I hear from professors, neighbors, and others is that when I graduate, I will have little chance to get employment,” Jeremy Epstein lamented. “What can you say to reassure me…that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate? “ It is fair to say that Mr. Epstein is not alone in this concern; in fact, it seems that more and more recent college graduates are struggling to find work…
Though my teaching assistant contract in France finished at the end of April, and May saw my triumphant return to Atlanta, my international travels were far from finished. Within a few weeks of my flight home, I found myself walking through the terminal at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, ready for another long overseas trip. Accompanied by my parents, my brother, and his girlfriend, I was embarking on another foreign adventure, this time to see my sister’s wedding in Israel.
With my teaching assistant contract drawing to its close, and my life in Vannes, France also nearing its conclusion, there remained one final French tradition for me to experience. Friday night, the day after my last day teaching classes at the high school, I found myself sitting in the living room of my closest colleague and friend, surrounded by several other fellow teachers. Though the group consisted of people I have worked with over the past seven months, the situation was new to me.
Red. The color of my face as I arrive to work one Thursday in March. People comment on how much sun I took on seemingly overnight, the direct result of a kayaking trip the previous day on the Gulf of Morbihan. When one of the restaurant service teachers at the vocational high school where I work invited me to join him on a leisurely paddle through this scenic gulf, I readily accepted. While I have become accustomed to the French notion of days off, which are anything but few and far between, I still recognized the unique opportunity before me.
S'Amuser Chez McDo
When I arrived in France, I had several goals set for my seven-month position as an English teaching assistant. Tasting as many Breton specialties as possible was a top priority on my list, and therefore, resisting my desires for American food went hand-in-hand with this ambition. My first lessons at the high school where I teach focused on this idea. I introduced myself and asked the students questions about Brittany and what local foods they deemed imperative for me to try. Knowing that French culture prides itself on its gastronomic expertise, I expected a never-ending list of specialties to arm myself with against my passion for hamburgers and fries.
Wish We Were There
It is eleven a.m. on a Saturday morning in February, and my brother and I are sitting in a café in Vannes, France. We have just ordered our breakfast, consisting of typical French fare: quiche, croissant, and chausson au pomme, a specialty pastry similar to an apple turnover. As we sip our coffee and satisfy our appetites, we watch the passersby and wait for the rest of our family to turn up. Like every Saturday morning in Vannes, it is market day. The heart of the city center, with its cobble stone streets and medieval wooden buildings, turns into a thriving market teeming with locals and tourists alike. Everything is sold here.
Southern in France
With headphones in my ears, a scarf around my neck, and hands in my pockets, I begin my daily fifteen minute walk to Lycée Professionel Jean Guehenno. It is Monday morning and the start of a new week in my job as an English teaching assistant in Vannes, France. As I battle the cold temperatures and biting winds on my route to the high school, I enjoy a few minutes of my favorite music and attempt to get my thoughts in order for the day… My lessons try to bring a real vision of America into their lives, specifically the Southern United States. Coming from Georgia, I try to teach them as much as I can about my home.
When I accepted a position working as an English teaching assistant in Vannes, France, I dreamt of the vast gastronomic opportunity ahead of me. After taking French classes both in high school and at the University of Georgia, and having completed a semester-long exchange program in France three years ago, I was fully aware of the fine delicacies I would encounter during my year here. Sure enough, the outdoor markets, composed of countless vendors selling the freshest fruits, vegetables, and endless varieties of cheese, never fail to disappoint; needless to say, I always attend on both Wednesday and Saturday mornings. The quality of the markets is matched by the food served in the town’s restaurants, which offer several local seafood specialties. Vannes, located on the southern coast of the Brittany region, is an oyster lover’s paradise, especially if you like them raw. However, despite my best efforts to focus on French specialties while I live here, they cannot replace the one Southern food specialty I love most: fried chicken.