Some fifteen years hence Mason will be submitting applications to colleges across the country and perhaps around the globe. For now, I am submitting preschool applications across the Brooklyn borough for September 2013 school year.
I attended the open house at Hands on World, one of the French immersion preschools I am applying for Mason. Toured the classrooms, met the teachers, saw kids from different backgrounds, spoke with the director – but what was most helpful was talking with the prospective parents. Most people I meet who are raising their kids to learn French have some connection with the language. Either both parents are French, or one parent is French. At the open house I met two couples who are Americans. Both had one spouse working in an international company and need French for their work. They confided that they never learned a second language growing up. Now that they have kids of their own, they want to give their children the gift of another language. And with this goal, they want to do all they can to get there – first step is to send their kids to a French preschool.
The determination of these Americans is a serious one. I reflect to how my own parents raised their two kids when the family came to New York City in the mid 1980s. Their determination to raise my brother and I to preserve our Chinese language was a conscious one too. They spoke to us only in Chinese [albeit they don’t know any English] and we soon became translators for our parents. My brother and I attended Chinese School on Saturday mornings for many years. I had over ten years of Chinese education by the time I went away to college. Ten years at three hours a week is a not a lot – but I learned enough Chinese to read a newspaper and write letters to my cousins back in China. My parents worked hard and we didn’t have a lot of money. There were never any vacations to Disney World, Sesame Place, cruises to some exotic island … but every every few years my parents saved up to bring us back to our birthplace in China for one month. While I have no recollection of my first six years in China – I have vivid details of my childhood summer vacations in China.
I dream of starting the tradition of taking Mason to visit France every few years during summer vacations – to visit the places I studied in Dijon as a college student, to tour the vineyards, to see the French farms, to buy fresh cherries at the French markets, to wander the museums and streets of Paris neighborhoods, to soak in the sunset of the Mediterranean coast. I dream to nurture in Mason a love of languages, the curiosity to learn, the desire to communicate with different people in various parts of the world.
Read more : Le Petit Mason
Photo Credit: Jonas Cuenin