I will start off by giving a shout out to Allison Yates, my homestay coordinator. She made this all happen for me in a matter of weeks. I'm eternally grateful for her patience, hard work and expertise! Since I was a pre-teenager, I'd wanted to live and teach in France. I learned about the culture and learned French, never having the opportunity to stay more than 1 week in Paris. To say the least, Southwestern France is incredibly different from Paris. While I can appreciate Paris for it's amazing arts and culture, living in Tarbes was beyond worthwhile as my French skills were used every day to do just about everything! I loved the fact that not many people spoke fluent English like in Paris. I grew to love my host family, they truly became my family away from family. I spent my weekdays teaching English and my weekends traveling around Southwestern France. This trip was something that I'd wanted for a very long time! As a former classroom teacher, I solidified my teaching skills and expanded my cultural perspective. Depending on where you live in France, you should have a basic grasp of the language so that you can be somewhat independent when you're on your own. The French will appreciate any effort that you make, trust me. Greenheart found a family that would be able to accomodate my dairy allergy and this felt like a miracle in a country like France where so many staple foods are dairy products. I really can't speak highly enough of the program! It's a great deal for the experience that you get.
How can this program be improved?
This is a fabulous program for go-getters. You need to push yourself to accomplish the goals/objectives that you set for yourself before the program begins (before leaving the country). You should not go into this program expecting hand holding. Thus, "know before you go" that you need to be flexible and be patient with yourself. The program staff are very upfront about the fact that you need to set your own goals. That being said, Greenheart did provide a webinar in preparation for the homestay along with a booklet to help me arrange my goals. Additionally, they provide many activities/resources for ESL lessons. I'd suggest that even more resources, tools and discussion forums be offered while in country. But, overall, I totally felt supported!
Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would