Saying Au Revoir to Special French Friends in Dominica

The Alliance Francaise is located on the Elmshall Road near the intersection with the Valley Road, on the eastern side of Roseau's Botannical Gardens.

The Alliance Francaise is located on the Elmshall Road near the intersection with the Valley Road, on the eastern side of Roseau’s Botanical Gardens.

Some of my most enjoyable experiences in Dominica have arisen from the events and programs offered at the Alliance Française de la Dominique.This French cultural institution has played a significant part in my life on the Nature Island – and I am very grateful for its presence here.

Gemma is the warm and welcoming Administrative Assistant at the Alliance Francaise de la Dominique. She can assist you with any questions about classes or events - in both English and French!

Gemma is the warm and welcoming Administrative Assistant at the Alliance Francaise de la Dominique. She can help you with any questions about classes or events – in both English and French!

During the past one and a half years, I have gotten to know a very special French couple through the Alliance Française:  Carole Bogdanovscky and Gildas Lefèvre.  Carole took up her duties as Director in September 2012 and taught the most advanced course that is offered at this time:  the ‘C1’ as per the Ministry of Education in France.  As I had previously completed all the courses leading up to this one, I decided to take it, knowing very well that it would be a challenge!

We worked through  a number of very in-depth and sometimes scholarly articles, which were rife with new vocabulary and unfamiliar terminology. I also learned an incredible amount about the Republic of France, its lengthy and fascinating history, as well as many items of great interest to me in terms of its rich and renowned culture.  Sometimes I really struggled to understand the topics and to communicate well, but Carole was always encouraging and completely dedicated to helping me and my classmate understand so much about her exceptional country and its beautiful language in a short span of time.

In addition, her husband Gildas, who is a computer software engineer by profession freely offered a conversation class every Friday afternoon. In this setting, we covered a range of topics, including Québec and the  Mayor of Toronto (2013-14) – en franςais, bien sûr!  I don’t think Gildas realized at the time that he has a penchant for teaching, but those of us in the class who have spent time in front of students agree that he definitely has a knack for this fine profession!  We really had a lot of fun – the word games increased our vocabulary and as we had a collective interest in cuisine, we also had opportunities to savour fine foods with a French flair – not only from France, but from other Francophone countries too!  You can read about some of my experiences with la gastronomie franςaise here and here!

With Carole’s contract in Dominica completed as of January 31, 2014, I await the new director and continue with revision classes in a course I have already  successfully passed with another exceptional instructor, Julien St. Jean.  He is a Dominican teacher who studied in France.  And yes, the review is certainly helpful too!

I am very sad to see Carole and Gildas leave the Nature Island, but I do understand that this young couple has plenty of  other plans to undertake immediately.

Before they left, I queried them about their somewhat short stay in Dominica with a few questions.  It seems to me that we will likely see them on the Nature Island again someday!  Here is what they had to say en anglais:

Gwendominica:   How do you feel about leaving Dominica after 1 1/2 years?
Carole: I would say that we have mixed feelings about leaving Dominica. On one hand, we are heart-broken to leave this beautiful country and above all, all the wonderful the people we’ve met here. On the other hand, we feel like we have made the most of our short stay and we are excited about the future and our upcoming projects
    Gildas: I would say the same, it is a mixed feeling. I am really happy about our next adventure but I am so sad to leave this beautiful island and all the amazing people we met and are going to miss.
Gwendominica: What did you like most about Dominica?
Carole and Gildas: Its lushness and its loudness! The rugged landscapes, fabulous sunsets, gorgeous waterfalls and lakes, rejuvenating hot springs, and above all the truly wonderful people we met here.
Gwendominica: What was your greatest challenge in Dominica?
Carole: From a professional point of view, adapting to  “Island Time” was a challenge: things can take more time in Dominica than what I’m used to. But I will mainly remember all the positive things when I think of Dominica in the future.

Gildas prepared two French Favourites: Boeuf Bourgingnon and Chicken Colombo for the Francophone Food Fair in March 2013.  He certainly does love to cook!

Gildas prepared two French Favourites: Boeuf Bourgingnon and Chicken Colombo for the Francophone Food Fair in March 2013. He certainly does love to cook!

   Gildas: My main challenge when I arrived was to learn how to cook new vegetables! I am really fond of cooking and it was a real pleasure to try new recipes.

Carole organized a Francophone Food Fair in March.  I and many others devoured the food that Gildas prepared for this event!

Carole organized a Francophone Food Fair in March 2013, which included a number of Francophone countries, including Dominica and Canada!

 Gwendominica: What were some of the things that you did for fun in Dominica?
Carole and Gildas: All types of outdoors activities: we went hiking, canyoning, diving, snorkeling, kayaking… Dominica is a nature-lover’s paradise, and I think we were very lucky to enjoy so much of what the country has to offer.
Gwendominica: Did you make any personal accomplishments in Dominica?

Gildas got to take a break from cooking as I hosted a Christmas lunch for him and Carole and my cla

Gildas got to take a break from cooking as I hosted a Christmas lunch for him and Carole and my classmates.

Carole and Gildas: We eventually completed the Waitukubuli National Trail! We are extremely proud of that, even if it took us one year.  We’ve met tourists doing it in 10 days…  Carole also started diving, and I could not dream of a better environment than Dominica to do so. Gildas also became a true Creole cuisine chef!
Gwendominica: Where are you going now and what will you be doing?
Carole: I will be going to India where I will work as deputy director of a Linguistic center. Then after a few months in Paris, we will move to New York, where Gildas will start a new job.
Gwendominica: Do you think you will ever return to Dominica?
  Carole: We do hope so!
Gwendominica: Is there anything else you would like to say about your experiences in Dominica?
Carole and Gildas: We would like to thank all our French students for their motivation and dedication throughout the year!

Carole and Gildas came for a Canadian Christmas lunch at my home on December 17, 2013.

Carole and Gildas came for a Canadian Christmas lunch at my home on December 27, 2013.

It was such a pleasure to get to know Carole and Gildas.  They helped me so much to improve my French and learn more about their country. At the same time, they enjoyed Dominica and some other countries in the region to the max!  They’ve kept a blog of their adventures and experiences.   It is called: Two Froggies in Dominica.You can read it here.  It is written in French, but even if you need to take a few lessons to understand all of it, you can enjoy their amazing photos in the mean time.
Until I meet  them again, and I just know that I will, be it France, New York, Toronto, Montreal or Dominica, I would like to  sincerely thank Carole and Gildas for adding another incredible experience to my life in Dominica.  Bonne chance et au revoir!
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