Monday, November 22, 2010

Elsa Richardeau, French Assistant 2010-2011

Cassie Dinges

Cassie Dinges, FRE 211 student, introduces Elsa Richardeau, William Jewell College's French Assistant for the academic year 2010-2011:

Elsa Richardeau, French Assistant

            There are a plethora of creatures in the animal kingdom. From fierce lions, playful monkeys, graceful deer, each species is associated with certain characteristics; personality traits that we often see in ourselves.
Struck by the slightest pang of imagination, children and adults alike have often contemplated where they could see themselves in the world’s seemingly infinite catalog. Elsa Richardeau, French lab assistant here at William Jewell College, says, while passing up all others, she would be a bird.
            Elsa, who is from L’Aiguillon sur mer, France, is currently studying and teaching at the College. Having been in the country a few months already, she is quickly adjusting to life in the United States. Free from the assumption that we could eat burgers, fries, and an ice-cold Coke at every meal, Elsa feels like she is starting to understand the United States’ culture.
            Trying to grow an appreciation for peanut butter—“French people do not like to mix salty and sweet things a lot,” she assured me—is one cultural thing she has grappled with. She much prefers the sweet chocolate and hazelnut spread, Nutella. As far as our cuisine goes, she misses “real French baguettes,” our version is too sweet and not crispy enough when you bite into it.
Not all of our baked goods pale in comparison, though. She informed me that our cookies are much better than the ones back in France. The cookies in the United States are softer and much sweeter than the ‘cookies’ she is used to eating. (No one tell her that the biggest name in chocolate chips in the U.S. manufactures their chocolate in Switzerland. I like victories, even the small ones!)
Elsa left a lot to come to study in America—a temporary au revoir until May rolls around. She left the luxury of a mother and father, from all stories I’ve heard are charming, lovely, and supportive.
“I have a close relationship to my parents. They are very protective of me,” Elsa stated.
She left the comfort of having her two dogs at her side, ready to lick her face when she wakes every morning. She left her friends, who she thoughtfully includes in the ‘family’ category. All this, and still, she left something much larger behind: the doubt that a life-long dream would come true.
“I remember when I was eight years old, and I saw pictures of San Francisco and I knew I wanted to come to America. At 10 years old, I fell in love with the English language. My dad, who knew coming here was my dream, taught me some English that he knew,” Elsa told me.
Wanting to come to America, wanting to experience life here seems deep-rooted in the person of Elsa Richardeau. The zeal of the words zipping airily of her lips makes this part of the world seem brand new again. To exchange monotony for ravenous senses, eager to take it all, it seems like perfection.
“America is not all wealth; it is not all about ‘The American Dream,’” Elsa told me. I find it such a curiosity that “The American Dream” would come so effortlessly from a foreign person’s vocabulary. “It’s like every other country, with unhappiness, and homelessness, which is not what every one believes.”
It’s nice—to me, at least—that people are still hungry for travel, for knowledge, and for understanding. That hunger, that dream, spawned from pictures seen over a decade ago, and today, Elsa Richardeau is at William Jewell College, home of Cardinals. She is in the heart of the country that enthralled her. Elsa Richardeau told me she’d like to be a bird—so she could see the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment