Alumni Spotlight: Davie Pocstar

Davie's volunteering sojourn started on 3rd October 2012 and will be finishing up her language homestay on 3rd January 2013. She is from Vancouver, Canada and has been traveling around the world since May 2011. She left the hectic corporate world of fashion for a much needed career break, in favour of new and exciting adventures abroad. She would go back to Bali, Indonesia in a heartbeat for the chance to crack open another fresh coconut and drink it on the spot. She would also fly economy class back to Melaka, Malaysia for another bowl of curry laksa. If Davie was stuck on a deserted island and could only eat one kind of food, she would pick fresh mangos - from the Philippines only!

Why did you decide to volunteer with Greenheart Travel in France?

Davie in France

Davie: It had been 20 years since I last learned French at school and I wanted to 're-learn' it again. I knew the best way was to live in France and completely immerse myself in the language and culture.

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer in France.

Davie: Each day starts with my host sisters getting ready for school. I usually get up a little later and have my yoga practice, eat breakfast and let the family dog out for a run around the yard. Afterwards, I make my way into Lyon for school at l'Alliance Française de Lyon. My classes run for 3 hours from Monday to Friday and by the time I get home, my two host sisters are just getting home as well.

We usually have a "faire un goûter" which is 'have a snack' - a very French thing to do after school for young kids. At around 18:00, I usually give Alice, the younger sister an English lesson. Together, we watch her favourite English speaking show called Blue's Clues. Throughout each episode, I pause the show and dictate sentences from the dialogue. Alice then writes it in her notebook, making drawings along the way - just like on the show. At the end of each lesson, she reads all the sentences to me and I correct any mispronunciations and such.

Davie in France teaching

When Alice's lesson is finished, I usually manage to squeeze in my French homework from the day's lesson in Lyon. We usually have dinner at around 20:00, a bit late for me but this is France. They tend to eat late.

Afterwards, it's time for Juliette, the older sister's English lesson. Together, we watch my favourite travel show called Departures. It's a Canadian show! Since Juliette needs to improve her verb tenses, I dictate various dialogue from each episode and she writes it down. Then, I have her write each sentence in past, present and/or future tense.

By the time both lessons are finished, I am exhausted and only have a little bit of time to skype with my partner in Canada before turning in for the night.

What made this experience unique and special?

Davie: This experience has been special because I have been placed with a very nice family. Also, I am fully immersed in the everyday French life. French is spoken most of the time and I have been learning it pretty much through osmosis. I don't understand everything that is being said, but I generally get the gist of the family's conversations.

One unique thing about my experience has been food on the weekends. On Saturdays, we eat fresh home cut french fries for lunch and Sunday dinners are crêpe nights!

How has this experience impacted your future?

Davie: Personally, this experience has taught me to have patience with children! I had the opportunity to give an English lesson at Alice's school which was great fun. I was able to use the skills I acquired at the TEFL teaching course I took earlier in Thailand which validated my investment! As for my future, I can see myself volunteering in a country/continent where teaching English would greatly benefit a community such as India, Bolivia or Africa.