July 03, 2013

Chantez, Chantez, Sing a Little Paris Song!

A little more than a year ago, I got suckered into giving someone my contact information in exchange for this:

Yes friends, I gave out my personal info for a lipstick.  I come cheap, I guess; pathetic, I know.  And the lipstick was a horrible orange colour that did not suit my skintone. Damn my swag-loving self.

Several weeks ago, I received a telephone call from Nacel Canada, the very organization that had handed out the free lipstick.  They wondered whether I was still interested in participating in the homeschooling program.


I was a little taken aback, as I had completely forgotten about the program and the reason I received a crappy lipstick for free; however, I am always up for a challenge (and fodder for my blog!) and so I said that I would do it.  July 2013 was too soon (hernia surgery for yours truly) and so I suggested that we would give it the old college try in August.  I hung up the phone, not really expecting to hear from them again any time soon.

the manual

Flash-forward a few weeks.

Nacel called again two days ago and this time they seemed somewhat desperate.  They had a French student, whom I'll call C, 17 years of age, who had previously been placed with a family of smokers (who only smoked outside, apparently).  The young lady's parents did not approve, especially because their daughter has exercise-induced asthma.  The smokers were almost immediately rejected by the family and the jeune fille was placed in another home.  A week or so later, the new hostess decided that she didn't really want to participate in the program and so the young lady was again homeless.  Was there any way that we could accommodate the student?

Well of course we could!

We received the young lady's profile, which I am NOT going to post publicly (I do have some scruples!).  G, the chatty and huggy coordinator, visited us the same day that we spoke on the phone and did a house visit / interview.  She asked us a few questions (do you smoke?), inspected the room that was to be the student's, took some pictures of our house, admired our art (she's an art lover too!), and explained the program to us.  She was here for about an hour.  She thought that we would be fine candidates because we are both home all day - RB's a teacher and I am a SAHM / librarian.  She approved us on the spot - to my surprise! - and that was that.  I would like to point out that the approval process seems somewhat laissez-faire, which is RIGHT up my alley.  G did not ask us for a police check (seriously!).  In fact, I brought it up:  "What about police checks?"

G was nonfazed:  "I administer quite a few of these programs and Nacel is the only one that does not require a police check".

I was nonplussed.  In this day and age of the moral majority's complete fear and loathing of strangers (I blame the media), there still exists an international program that does not require participants to have police checks? What is this world coming to, I ask you?  RB and I have current police checks as he is a teacher and I am a professional volunteer.  We are good people (most of the time, well, excepting my recent interactions with a psychotic neighbour in which I attempted to drive him insane).

Yes, you read it right.  NO POLICE CHECKS NEEDED.  I personally don't feel that it's a big deal, in fact I kind of like it; however, I do find it to be strange.  I would NEVER send a 17-year old Gwen to a strange family's home without a proper background check.  Well, I say that now, but is she only 7 and still very much my baby. Call me hypervigilant when it comes to my own children, but a total hippie otherwise.

Here's a brief summary of the program:

  • C arrives.  We speak English only.  NO FRENCH! As if.  I am totally going to speak a little bit of Franglais just to make C laugh
  • C hangs with us every hour of every day.  Yes, this part is true. Nacel's curfew is 7pm if C is out in the evening without us (begs to be broken!).  Also funny, Nacel does not want the students mixing with others in the program.  More on that later.
  • There is a homeschooling program, but it seems very loosey-goosey.  The point of the program is to "offer students an opportunity to learn English in a family setting... improving language skills and Canadian cultural understanding".  Basically, there is a lot of chatting involved and you all know that I love to chitchat. Sample lessons include playing 20 questions (as a family, we are obsessed with this game) and giving each other compliments:  Why Christine, that shade of lipstick is so becoming on you.  
  • We have a one page "check-in chart" to fill out to prove that we have done some homeschoolin': "PLEASE NOTE:  'CHECK-IN CHART' IS YOUR ONLY PROOF OF DELIVERY OF PROGRAM, BY YOU TO STUDENT".  Awesome, this program rocks!  I love it already.  Check this out. Looks tough, dudnit?
This is my kind of form!

Last night, we received an email from C, asking us for a family photo. Why yes, I would be happy to send you our picture.  This is what I sent:



...............................  wait for it...




How funny is that? Yes, I am a sick individual.

In my defence, I only made her suffer for about 5 minutes and then I sent her not one, but two photos of us, in which we look moderately appealing:

Lord Roberts Funfair photo booth

Christmas 2012 - fancy schmancy!

And so it's 8am-ish on Wednesday and we are awaiting C's arrival (tomorrow evening at 11-ish at the Costco parking lot).  I will post again in a week or so.

It's Thursday at 11:51pm.  We were supposed to have picked up C at 11pm.  There's been a three hour delay, dammit. The plane has been delayed and it sucks.  RB is sleeping and I'm burning the midnight oil by reading Shogun.  Someone was just boiled alive in a pot of water.  Why do I do this to myself?  Why why why?

ClĂ©mence arrived at 2:35am.  She was as happy, friendly and smiley as someone who has spent the entire day traveling can be.

Updates to come.


Part 2 - click here!