Our venture with the company English for Success continues.  So far, we have taken in 9  students over three weeks, starting from mid-July.  This week we have 2 new students staying.  We had our fingers crossed we’d all enjoy it….

We started our first week with some trepidation.  Taking in French school children during their holidays seemed like a reasonable proposition – a 2 hour English lesson each morning, lunch then an afternoon activity followed by some homework, dinner, an hour or so for an evening activity, then bed – simples!

Edward had loose plans for his lessons prepared but couldn’t firm up on them until he met the students to assess their capabilities.  I’d planned meals for the week, some had been prepared in advance in the freezer but the rest needed to be cooked on the day.  My dear friend, Anne, had made some brownies for me, which were to brought out of the freezer as necessary for desserts during the week…. A suggested programme of activities for the coming week had been prepared, including various games and baking sessions for the evenings.  The bedrooms were ready so then it was just for Edward to collect two of the students, Coline and Philippine, from the station at Le Mans and for me to greet the parents of the other student, Valentine, who were coming by car.  We’d been briefed by EFS to welcome parents with English tea and cake – so out came the cups and saucers, the PG Tips and a freshly-made farmhouse sponge!

While I waited for Valentine and her family to arrive, I received a text from Edward saying that he was at the station but there was no sign of the Philippine, the first student he was to meet!!  This was quickly followed by an email from her parent to say she had arrived but couldn’t see Edward – oh no!  There’s only so much one can do in a situation like that but then Valentine and her family arrived, so I had to hope for the best that Edward had managed to meet Coline and Philippine…..

It was quite nerve-wracking meeting our first student and parents – what would they make of the place and us??  Would we get along?  Would we understand each other, given I have only limited French??  I needn’t have worried!  The tea and cake were a good ice-breaker and while I could see Valentine was a little anxious, her parents were sympathetic and were very friendly.  Before too long, Edward, Coline and Philippine arrived and we all had more tea and cake before taking a tour around the house and garden.

Everyone seemed happy with the accommodation and so it was time for Valentine to say goodbye to her family – it was clearly difficult for her but I put my arm around her and said she’d be fine, we’d look after her…..

And so, our first week had started.  Coline and Philippine were both 15 years old and Valentine was 13.  They all got along very well together and they were a lovely group of girls.  Each day I stressed about the meals but each day they complimented my cooking…. Edward’s lessons went down well too and the mid-week evaluations we had to ask them to complete were all 100% positive!  Phew!

Our activities were enjoyed by them all too.  We spent an afternoon at the lake at Sillé, did baking for a picnic at the zoo, which we spent an afternoon looking around, did a nature trail, following signs made in sticks or stones, and made insect hotels in the evening.  We visited St Suzanne and spent the afternoon looking around the museum, made peppermint creams for them to take home and spent an afternoon playing lazer games!  The weather was good all week, so most afternoons they played cricket or croquet in the garden and on  the last day we had a BBQ and played the chocolate game, which was hysterically funny!

Our first week hosting students was a success and it was in no small measure due to Coline’s, Philippine’s and Valentine’s good nature and good humour.  Saturday was very sad indeed when we had to say our good-byes.  We miss them all and look back with very fond memories of the week we had together.

We’re particularly touched that they seem to want to keep in touch with us, which is lovely – every now and then we receive an email from one of them with news of what they are doing.  In a couple of weeks, we shall be driving down to meet up with Valentine and her family, who have invited us over for a visit to their local zoo and to catch up with them all – they are only an hour away, so we’re really pleased we are able to keep in touch with them and to get to see them again.  We feel that we have made some new friends through this very rewarding activity…

And so, our fourth week of hosting students is coming to an end.  We needn’t have worried about everyone enjoying this week – Léa and Pierre-Adrien (PA) have been absolutely lovely and we shall be very sad to see them go in the morning.  Hopefully, they will keep in touch with us too and let us know how they are getting on in life.

We have one more week of students for the summer, 3 boys are coming on Sunday.  It’s certainly been an experience and we’ve had a sharp learning curve but overall we have really enjoyed it and feel that this type of work fits well with our new life here in France♥