S: First Memoir - Yann Dubos
BC: Teen author Yann writes a short memoir about his education during the first 13 years of his life. - "Makes you feel like a kid all over again." The Daily Telegraph - "A great read." The New Yorker - "Great new author coming up!" J.K Rowling
FC: First Memoir Yann Dubos
1: To Mr. John, for assigning this project to me
2: I was born in France, at Quincy sous Sénart, but I lived at Gometz-le-Chatel for about 9 months, then we moved to Brazil, and my education began. I went to a school called Espoente for my Early Childhood years. It was actually a Brazilian school but my dad's company (Renault) rented some rooms and hired some teachers to teach the employee’s kids. On the first day of school , my dad somehow managed to bring me to school late. I was very nervous and scared about my first day at school ever, and I was crying as we walked the long winding passage that went up to the higher floors. My dad knocked on the door, and the teacher opened it; she was young, probably in her 20s or 30s. All of the other kids were staring at me, and I broke down. I turned around, but my dad had already left for work. Later on, I had great fun. I can't remember much of the lessons themselves, but I do remember the other things, like the buses, the school campus my house, and what my daily routine was like. Once, the school went on a trip to an educational center. It just happened to be on my birthday and we had lots of fun while learning. What wasn't so fun was when I jumped into the pool and my wings fell off; I would have drowned if my teacher hadn't dived in, fully clothed, to save me. It's kind of funny when I look back because it took a long for her to notice me. Some days, after school, we had capoiera classes. Capoiera is a native martial art from Brazil, but it has developed nowadays to be more of a dance. There is no physical contact among the dancers and they do a sort of fight routine – which can be pre-planned or not – to the accompaniment of an instrument called the billabao. When performed, it looks like they are fighting, but in a graceful way. I also went to a nursery school called Brincando e Criando – meaning Playing and Growing – which was a very accurate name. The campus included a
3: fenced area at the back for some rabbits, several buildings, a playground and some small outdoor places. We always had the same lunch, which was some meat, vegetables, and fegao (beans from Brazil) with rice. It was a very nutritious and delicious meal. Once, I brought one of the rabbits home from Brincando e Criando; I enjoyed playing with him, but I think he was very annoyed with me by the time we brought him back. We also watched Harry Potter 1; or most of it. We stopped when the dragon was hatching, and everybody; other than me; was very upset. I was relieved; I was terrified of the dragon. Often, we also watched a Brazilian kid’s show whom the main characters were a man with orange hair in a green costume and another man in red with a pointy hat hopping around on one leg. It was one of those Sesame Street style shows and we all enjoyed it. One thing that I really hated about school was that the bus that picked me up from my house always came before Dora the Explorer ended. To make matters worse, when I came back from school, the boy – who was 8-13 when we lived in Brazil – I liked to play with was leaving for school himself. Naturally, my sister got to watch all of Dora the Explorer and play with the boy all day. But I didn’t let me get down, I had a great time in Brazil, and most if not all of my memories from Curitiba are positive. After 5 years in Brazil, we moved back to France, at Gometz-la-Ville (which was close to Gometz-le-Chatel, where I lived the first 9 months of first my life). I went to a public school five minutes walk from our house (since it was in the same town). School started at 9 (so I always got lots of sleep) and ended at 4:30 (so I still got lots of time to play). We didn’t have school on Wednesdays, which is the greatest thing for a Wednesday to be. On Saturday we had a half-day with arts and crafts
4: activities and I enjoyed those classes. One Saturday though, we needed to bring a shirt we didn’t care about because we would be creating Christmas decorations with sloppy materials. I overexaggerated the need to get a dirty shirt and I couldn’t find one in time. I got trouble on Monday and I was very disappointed because I didn’t get to make some paper stockings. We also often went on field trips, like visiting the Centre George Pompidou, the Thoiry Zoo or l’Assemblé Nationale. Another positive thing about living in France was that, since I went to a small, local and public school, we all lived close to each other. After school and on Wednesdays, we biked around the Domaine de Montvoisin, in which I lived. This was one of the neighborhoods in town, there was also the Z.A. (Zone Artisanale), where my friend Alban lived. Our school was one big building with grade EC3 through to 5. The Early Childhood kids had the left part of the building, with a rather large court, a playground, and some sandboxes. My sister enjoyed herself there, because she didn’t have any homework. On my side, at the elementary school. There were 3 classrooms, and 3 teachers, which each taught two grades. She (I never had a male teacher there) would give one side of the classroom an assignment while the other side worked. I always seemed to be on the side with the younger children. In first grade, our teacher would give us some postcards and pictures of animals and flowers as a reward system. I still have some in my drawers. My best friends in France were: Charlotte, Alexis, Aymeric and Thimothé. Some other friends of mine were: Hervé, Thomas, Alban and Paul. Alban and Paul were pranksters: once, they decided to ding-dong ditch – ring the bell and then run away before someone could answer the door – our house. My nanny, Claudia, was getting irritated. She stood by the door, and when they rang, she opened it; the look on their faces was priceless. With
5: Thimothé, I went to boy scouts on Sundays. It was fun, and we did lots of fun activities arranged by our dad; I had some of my best father-son activities during scouts. I really enjoyed the three years I spent in France, and I think they were important to shape me to the person I am now. After 3 years in France, we moved to Romania. Before we even arrived, I had a difficult choice to make between the French and American schools in Bucharest. I eventually chose the American school. When I first came to the school, my mom and I had a meeting with the principal: Mrs Shreve. She told me that I would have two weeks in 3rd grade to prove myself worthy to move on to 4th grade. This decision was taken because my report cards from the French 3rd grade weren’t up to their expectations. I was allowed to pass into 4th grade after 2 weeks, and I then was with my friend Stavros. We met Stavros in the Paris CDG airport. We were on the scissor-bus on to the plane going to Bucharest. My mom, Léna and I (my dad had already been in Romania for the past 6 months or so) were talking about moving to Romania and what-not. Stavros’s mom heard us and asked us whether we were going to AISB. Stavros and I became good friends and so did Joanna and Léna. 4th grade was an average year at AISB. My teacher was Mrs Hayes, she was the mom of a friend called David Can. She was a good teacher, and she often told us stories of her life when we ‘jogged her memory’ or when she had a ‘flashback’ (that’s what she always said when she recalled something). We didn’t have many interesting subjects or units, and I was really bored during class. We also had 1 hour long brainstorming sessions which were a pain in the bottom. We would sit on a carpet thinking of ideas for our unit projects. We stayed there much longer tham strictly necessary while Mr Mayer (my dad has
6: his motorbike now) droned on and on about the importance of eye contact and making your voice carry while presenting. In contrast to 4th grade, 5th grade was the greatest year ever. My teacher was Ms Caruana. She is a very enthusiastic person and she made our classes much more lively. She also taught the class extremely well and we somehow managed to pay attention most if not all of the time. Our class was very small (only 10 or 11 people) and it didn’t feel like school at all. Almost all of the people in Ms C’s (C being short for Caruana) 5th grade class were at AISB at least part of this year. They are: Diana, Mish, Nathalie, Oli, Stefan, Yahav, Zach, Shahar and I. The projects that year were fun, other than the exhibition, which was very stressful. After graduating from elementary school, I naturally moved on to 6th grade. 6th grade was a fun year; the transition was easy and my teachers were great. I had Mr Esteller for both Humanities and English and he was one of my best teachers along with Ms C. My Science and Math teacher was good, but treated us a bit younger than we really were, but she was still fun to learn from. I can’t really remember the projects we had that year, but I don’t think we had that many, as they weren’t very hard to complete. Because 6th grade was so easy, I managed to move up to 7th grade, where I had new teachers. I had a new English and Humanities teacher: Ms Selaru and Mrs Brown. Ms Selaru may not have had the most fascinating classes, but the work was easy. I alsol really enjoyed her classes because she had a good sense of humor. Mrs Brown’s classes weren’t that fun either but the work was easy. She could also be funny when she wanted to be, but she was rather strict. My math and science teacher was Ms *****. I didn’t really like her, because her work was hard and boring, and she thought she was funny, so she joked a lot; problem was, her jokes weren’t all that funny.
7: Overall, we had to get used to a whole new way of teaching and a slight bit more homework along with more tedious classwork and projects. Many teachers I didn’t like as much as last year’s and some I thought were better than the ones in 6th grade. Fortunately, teachers like Ms Selaru and Mrs Brown were able to teach me many things without being so annoying that I dreaded their classes. Most classes I was able to put up with during the 7th grade, and I made it to 8th grade without feeling very negative about the year. 8th grade must have been the most tedious year. Many of my teachers were very irritating and some classes were just plain boring. I found myself having a very hard time showing up to their classes in a good mood. The homework was unclear and Moodle was rarely reviewed, making it hard to be able to complete it. 8th grade has been a very arduous and tedious year educationally, but I made some good friends and not all teachers were horrible. What will school be like in France?