March 3, 2024

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“We love Sète”: four young foreigners on a unique island to teach English or Spanish

“We love Sète”: four young foreigners on a unique island to teach English or Spanish

Come fall 2023, the four young women are teaching their native English or Spanish, and are learning French.

It is in an apartment building with an old exterior facade, but a modern interior style, where we find four protagonists. In the background, not music in the language of Georges Brassens, but that of Shakespeare.

Because three of them are Anglo-Saxon. Starting with Haley Casper, 26 years old and originally from New York, Helen Dunn, 23 years old, Jacksonville, Florida, and Rosie, 21 years old, the “kid of the group” and despite her last name being Holiday. Not from France, but from Nottingham in England. Finally, the last person around the table is 22-year-old Aroa Anegas-Arroyo, dubbed “the Spanish girl of the group”, who comes straight from the Castile-La Mancha region.

Different paths, but they converge

Finding yourself face to face with these four young women gathered together is a bit of a coincidence. The senior, described as the “most confident” of the group, was studying cinema in Hollywood. “Last year, I was already an assistant English teacher, but in Orléans. This second year in France, I wanted to discover the south,” explains the beauty who landed in October.

Her compatriot is returning from a year in Laval studying business. “My dream was to live in France one day. I did it, but I needed the sun there,” laughs the “comedian”, who blushes with every joke.

As for Arova and Rosie, they came straight to the set last October. Within the framework of studies respectively translation and interpretation of English – French, and French – English literature.

“The set was a nice surprise.”

Same, in the shadow of Montpellier?

Finally, through different language exchange systems, all the members of “The Girls of Set” – as they call themselves – land on a unique island with “welcoming” inhabitants. A city assigned to them and unknown to them. “I thought it was an island at first,” Helen admits.

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All chose Montpellier Academy and thought about landing there. “But Sète is a nice surprise. There are so many things to do here,” exclaims the youngest. “I love the architecture of the city centre, you can feel the Italian influence,” Hayley continues before the blue-eyed blonde adds: “And the graffiti on the walls is incredible.”

Accustomed to the beaches of the Atlantic coast, the Floridian finds herself with the sea and the Corniche, like her Spanish friend, who marvels at her English standards. “Actually, we all love Sète,” sums up the British student in Bristol.

Together, when they're not wandering the streets of Montpellier, they spend hours in downtown cafes. They are allowed to make these field trips on Wednesday afternoons and weekends, when they are not in class at their institutions.

Language Teaching Assistants

Both Helen and Arova attend Victor Hugo College, the former at Charles de Gaulle High School and the latter at Paul Valéry College-High School, where he meets Rosie. Haley, for her part, is on the Joliet Currie school board.

“A student asked me for an autograph”

In class, there are three assistant English teachers and one assistant Spanish teacher. While teaching and introducing students to their culture, they improve their French through discussions.

Unlike her three classmates, who like the “seriousness and well-being of high school students,” Helen likes the “prettier and more enthusiastic” middle schoolers. Aside from the hustle and bustle, Sète school children have many accolades.

Stories too. “One day, I was asked for a signature,” says the New Yorker, who later signed on as a director at Cannes.

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