This June, after 41 years of teaching French and Spanish language at Tufts, our colleague David Pauling is retiring. For 25 of those years, David spent the month of July in Talloires guiding, supporting, and instructing our Tufts in Annecy students in all things French. We asked him to reflect on his time with the European Center and the Tufts in Annecy program, and he kindly obliged.
The experience of working in Talloires these last 25 years has enriched my life beyond all measure.
The adventure began in Fall 1993, when my colleague at the Tufts French Department, Emese Soos, came to talk to me about working with the European Center in Talloires, France on a new program they were developing. In addition to the Tufts in Talloires program, which had been in existence since 1980, the European Center wanted to develop a program that would focus exclusively on French language. The program would partner with a local French language institute for classes, but it needed a Tufts faculty member to accompany the students and ensure that their studies were in line with Tufts’s own French language courses. In July 1994, I joined the team at the Tufts European Center to launch the Tufts in Annecy Program, and the rest is history.
Over the years, I have watched our students leave the comfort of their homes in order to discover a new world firsthand. Living with their French host families and being immersed in a new language and culture provided the students with life-changing experiences that they will carry with them forever.
And, for the most part, they all worked hard on their French language skills. In addition to their formal language classes, I spent time with every student to address each of their specific language needs. After all, they were in France to master French!
It would require a complete volume to describe my “French” life in Haute Savoie. It has been the highlight of my year since 1994! There is something unique about daily life in France. It has its own special rhythm – a wonderful equilibrium between business and pleasure. There were always myriad things that had to be done in the course of the day – teaching English to French lycéens, meeting with my Annecy students, program events at the Priory or in Annecy – but I always finished the work at hand and had time for a dip in the lake or a relaxed apéritif and dinner with friends and colleagues. Having as a physical setting the breathtaking beauty of Lake Annecy and the surrounding French Alps made the daily routine even more memorable. I am a lover of every aspect of France and French civilization. Vive la France!
Life in Talloires was made more rewarding by the wonderful team of colleagues at the European Center. From Sally Pym (the European Center Director when I started) and Gabriella Goldstein (the current Director) to Angela Kachuyevski, the International Relations instructor for the the Tufts Summit Program, we all worked together so beautifully. I have formed so many friendships there that I know will continue into the future. What a magnificent gift Tufts has given me for all these years!
I look forward to seeing my successor, Professor Tracy Pearce, in action when I return to Talloires. I mention this because it explains why, in French, we prefer AU REVOIR to ADIEU! The certainty that I will return to visit the Priory softens the sadness of ending this chapter of my career at Tufts – one of the happiest and most fulfilling of my entire life.