I have been teaching French to Japanese students for more than three years. When I started, I didn't know much about Japanese people, their culture, their language or their food. I can say that I was ignorant. Through the years, I've learnt more and more things about them. I have learnt that Japanese women can be soo sweet, but they are also very strong inside. They have a strenght that I admire, because they don't always need to speak their minds, they know when to speak and when to stay silent. Also, I absolutely love their delicacy, which you can find in the way they move their hands, the way they bow their heads, they way they dress and wear make-up, the way they move or sit. They have inspired me a lot.
Of course, Japanese food reflects all of that like no other food in the world. I am so glad that some of my Japanese students taught me how to cook their way, like Naomi, who I really liked a lot, who taught me how to cook Japanese rice (I gotta tell you, it is an art, not at all the way we make ours), and the day she made onigiri for me and how cute the presentation was... She was so shy that she blushed when I kissed her goodbye on the cheeks on her last day at school. (Japanese usually don't like our kisses, and I don't blame them!! In France, we give two to four kisses on the cheeks to say hi and goodbye which is A LOT and absolutely not necessary!!) They will barely hug you, but they will give you so much more than a physical touch. I remember Maki too. She was so pretty and nice. The first day she came to my class, she was with a man who looked just like her, since they had the same last name I thought they were brother and sister... In fact they were married!! They looked so young to be married already! When Maki left the school, she gave me the nicest gift: Japanese candies, leopard slippers, elastic bands... that was so cute!
I have met quite a few women who were housewives at such a young age for us, like 26, 28. They had come to France to follow their husband who was working here and all they did was come to class and take care of their house and cook. A lot of them were very lonely here in Paris and I am happy to say that the time they spent in class was a moment of fun and joy.
I also remember Chihiro, who was so smart and nice. Her passion and interest for France was very touching. She used to make jewels and had such a cool style. And Yoko, who spent more than a year taking pictures of an old French pigeon man, every single day, until she became friend with this man and stayed by his side as a confident and friend, she was the only one there for him until he died, no one came to his funeral but her... Or Miki, another housewife who was so nice too, she and her husband used to work in fashion, I am sure they will make it to the top!!! I remember one day her husband's boss, who is a famous designer, invited them to have dinner at his place and served them a huge plate of meat. She had a very hard time finishing her plate but did it, out of courtesy, and she and her husband both came back home with a bad stomachache and the boss never knew about it, actually he thought they loved his food and kept bringing Miki's husband heavy stuff to eat that Japanese just hate!!!
|Miki's onigiri, with salmon, string beans and omelette.|
|Naomi's onigiri, wrapped in a real leaf.|
|Makis I made at home, which I learnt how to make thanks to my Japanese friends.|
|Me and Chihiro.|
|Great Japanese and Chinese women...|
We shared so many things me and these women. They taught me so many things. I will always cherish them in my heart and even if I never meet them again, I will always remember them...
I had some fun male students too, though they were not a lot, I have mainly female students. But Daisuke was one of them, he who loved the Beatles and travelling and didn't want to get married because he wanted to be free to travel and be selfish. And Yuya, who is a painter, who kept saying when I asked him how he was: "Comme-ci comme-ça" and was soo funny with his wife Mizuho. I will never forget the day he showed us the picture on his passeport: he looked so childish we all cracked up laughing... Or Kentaro, who we started calling Mathieu because after a few months he kind of became French in a way in his attitude, he too loves travelling a lot and each time he went somewhere he would bring back something for us, and show us pictures of his trip. I am so proud of him that his French improved so well and so fast because he has French friends and he is happy to be here in Paris.
|Me with Christophe, another French teacher and friend, and Yuya and Mizuho.|
Now that I don't work anymore because I am taking care of my baby, I really miss them. They were the light of my day at school, I could never thank them enough for being so generous and fun to be with.
|Maki's gift for me.|
Yuya, Mizuho, Miyako, Kana, Mami, Kanako, Kentaro, Daïsuke, Nariko, Maki, Miki, Yoko... you really changed something in me and I will always consider you as friends... I hope none of you or family and friends got hurt in this terrible catastrophe...