Je m’appelle Lénie. Mwen rele Lénie.
Published: December 16, 2018
Je m’appelle Lénie. Mwen rele Lénie. I was born and raised in Haiti, a small country located in the Caribbean, which shares an island with the Dominican Republic. As many know, Haiti is the first black republic (declaring independence from France in 1804). It is known for its beautiful mountains, beaches and the uniqueness of its culture. I have studied administrative assistance in a local business school, and I am currently working at an American school as a teacher’s assistant.
As a francophone, I was fortunate last summer to be a counselor (J-1 Exchange Visitor) at both French Language Villages: Hackensack and Bemidji. French is my second language, which I have been speaking all my life as well Haitian Creole; but for the first time in my whole existence, I was inspired by how we could also live the language and enjoy it. What a great method for language learning and teaching outdoors! Seeing and touching the language: la nature, les arbres, les fleurs, les insectes, oiseaux, (nature, trees, flowers, insects, birds). Eating it: la baguette, le riz creole, la ratatouille, les bananes frites (baguette, creole rice, ratatouille, fried plantains). Every song at CLV is learned in the target language, and it’s very unique.
I was amazed to see how people came to Lac du Bois with no French at all and in less than a week they were able to build several sentences. Living in the forest where everything is so real, the atmosphere at Lac du Bois is simply extraordinary. Being able to be involved in such language merging and cultural exchanges had allowed me to develop skills I didn't know that I possess and it impacted my life delightfully. I would never know that I had something to offer in that area if Concordia hadn't given me the chance to be part of this language immersion; to share my own culture and acquire important knowledge from others.
I liked everything about CLV but what I enjoyed the most was the International Day where so many cultures came alive. It really allowed us to explore the world without crossing borders. We shared our culture and learned so much from each other. We explored what we had in common and ways we were different. It really unified us and it was one of the most exquisite experiences of my life. I now truly consider myself a global citizen.
In just a month and a half, CLV has taught me things that I had no idea I could learn in years. Meeting people from around almost the whole world at one place is powerful and you want that connection for a lifetime; you don’t want to lose it, like that feeling when you are having a good dream and don’t want to wake up. I never knew that was possible or could even exist.
I learned to live in a big community with people with different backgrounds, languages, races, religions, beliefs. I discovered new dances and eaten lots of new foods, and I also shared culinary expertise, folk songs and dances from Haiti. I surely went back home with that positive impact and lots of knowledge. That is the reason why people say: Les voyages forment la jeunesse (Travel shapes youth or broadens minds.).
It’s only at CLV that I could learn so much about a Francophone country in just one day. With le theme du jour (the daily theme), important information is one the triangle de sagesse (a brochure displayed on the tables at every meal) and I learned many new things.
One thing that I learned at CLV and would like to apply in my country is something that Capitaine Planete, one of our three super heroes at Lac du Bois Hackensack, taught us. They taught us recycling and composting because it is good to teach kids about what they can do with their trash and how to sort it.
Concordia Language Villages has helped me see a famous proverb in action: Yon sel dwet pa manje kalalou (One lone finger cannot eat stew). I would be more than happy to have this experience again because it has forever changed my life.