Joy Journal

Joy Journal #9: May 30, 2022

This past spring, my daughter attended school in Aix-en-Provence, France for two months. Although she was in French immersion before we left Canada, joining a French classroom was a very different experience, and she faced a steep learning curve. Thankfully, she met an amazing group of friends, which made a huge difference.

The administration and teaching staff were kind and supportive but they expected a lot from her. Middle school students in France are held to high standards and taught challenging topics such as classical music, literature (poetry and fiction), art history and theory, world history and politics, advanced math and science.

At one point, my daughter was asked to memorize and recite a 16th century sonnet, Heureux Qui Comme Ulysse by Joachim Du Bellay. Du Bellay wrote the poem in 1558 when he was exiled in Rome, Italy, longing for his homeland. In the lead up to the assignment, my daughter practiced with my sister, Cara, who is a successful theatre actress. I was amazed at my daughter’s ability to retain it all. She practiced so much, I even caught her reciting it out loud in her sleep.

On the day of the assignment, she did really well, and received a high mark for her efforts. Her teacher was very complimentary of both her pronunciation and delivery. It meant a lot to her, as French teachers do not generally hand out praise lightly. For me, this little moment sums up our experience in France. I was so proud of my child for being brave and facing something that was really scary. It was heartening to watch her rise to the challenge, and keep showing up, even though it was hard. It reflects some of the gifts that we hope to give our children for life: confidence, courage and determination. #JoyBlogging

Photo by Baraa Jalahej on

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