Stages et bénévolat : ce que pensent les étudiants

Stages et bénévolat > Stages et bénévolat : ce que pensent les étudiants

Assistants d’anglais

Ali Friend
Lycée d’Alembert
Wesleyan University, VWPP Spring 2018

I would help students with their pronounciation, grammar, and vocabulary when they spoke English. I would take small groups of students and speak with them one-on-one to practice their speech, as well as ask them questions in English to help practice sentence structure.

I didn’t have any interest in teaching, that I knew of, but I wanted to try something new and I’m happy I did. It was very rewarding to teach students my native language.

I didn’t think I would’ve liked teaching but it was more rewarding than I thought. Teaching is definitely an option now for my career path.

I started to understand how French speakers viewed myself when I spoke French, since I compared that to when my students spoke English to me (a native English speaker). I started to slow down my speech, in French and English, and pronounciate my words more for people to understand me better in both languages.

I learned that there is a difference between the French and the American school system, where their education/career path is centered around the Bac. I also learned that it’s mandatory for students to take English until they graduate, which is something I think we should adopt.

Nikolas Ortega
Lycée Marie Laurencin
Wesleyan University, VWPP Spring 2018

My tasks involved taking a small cohort of students and engaging with them in English. Often times, we could discuss their academics, current assignments, pop culture, and various other aspects of French and American life. I would also give assignments and activities for them to improve their colloquial English skills.

My stage gave my semester abroad a bit more structure. Initially, I felt that I had too much time on my hands, so the internship helped me a bit more responsibility throughout the week.

Through this opportunity, I was able to learn more about the French educational system. Additionally, many of the students in my classes had recently emigrated to France or came from immigrant backgrounds, therefore the classroom was very diverse. This allowed me to see some of the difficulties with intergration amongst immigrant communities in Paris. Moreover, I saw that the opportunities available both educationally and socioeconomically for these members of society are very limited. Inspite of this however, I also saw instructors and staff committed to making an impact of the lives of these students, for the better.

I was able to attend a runway organized and curated by some of my students.

Overall, I got a lot out of this internship experience. It really brought things full circle and I was able to see another side of Paris, that I was otherwise sheltered from. Spending time in the 11eme led me to discover new cafes, restaurants, and parks. Additionally, it was wonderful to endow onto my students useful skills to help them improve their English.

Morgane Flournoy
Ecole Aujourd’hui
Vassar College, VWPP Fall 2017

I would help 2 groups of 3 kids (45 minutes per group) with their English and English assignments. They were more advanced English speakers compared to the rest of their peers, so they would work with me on separate assignments while their peers would work with the teacher on other stuff. I’m interested in teaching elementary school when I’m older so it was perfect. I loved my stage, and it just gave me another great experience to remember Paris by.

Andrew Jacono
Ecole Aujourd’hui
Vassar College, VWPP Fall 2018

Teaching a group of three French students (the equivalent of 2nd graders) how to read, write, and speak English. We would read books together (out loud), complete problems and tasks in the workbook, and talk about things beyond class so that the kids could learn to express themselves in a more informal manner.

The teacher of the class I was assigned to was absolutely wonderful. She was kind, patient, and available. I did not interact as much with other colleagues, but the ones I did work with were similar: nice, welcoming, and supportive.

Every morning, 5 minutes before class, (the teacher I worked with) would give me a few tasks for the day, which usually included reading with the kids, completing tasks in workbooks, and a few minutes of more general talking.

I might want to teach when I get older, so this was a great experience! Before this, I had an internship at 826NYC, a nonprofit organization that helps kids from 6-18 learn how to read and write better (in English).

This was a French bilingual private school. I had never worked in such a place before, so being able to see how such institutions are directed was incredibly interesting and encouraging. As someone who is so passionate about language and spreading knowledge, this was probably the perfect experience for me.

Did your « stage » experience influence your plans for your future (career, other) ? 

Yes. I am now currently thinking about spending a few months in France after I graduate Wesleyan to teach English in a French city! I may also want to pursue teaching in the future, as the stage was so illuminating.

How did your « stage » experience influence your semester abroad ?

It made it all the more positive. Having a place to interact with engaging children every Thursday always made my week more interesting, fun, and rewarding!
I absolutely adored this experience, and I loved the colleagues and people I worked with! If I ever return to France in the near future, I’ll be sure to visit École Aujourd’hui and say hi to( …) the three wonderful children I helped to teach.


Centre culturel artistique

Mallory Dubus
Mona Bismarck American Center
Wesleyan University, VWPP Spring 2018

Regular tasks included in the internship: Reading emails from artists, Researching artists, Writing artist proposals, Helping set up events. (Total=12 hours week: 2 x 6h/day per week)

I volunteered at the events for : The Second Act of Elliot Murphy « Hidden Fences » Morton Subotnick Greil Marcus As well as atteneded the opening night part for Mona Darlin.

I am interested in event planning, and I was able to see this field in the cultural center/arts setting. I learned a lot and really treasured this opportunity.

I often interacted with my coworkers and would sometimes call local schools looking for people to participate in our Look&Learn program. I researched schools in the area for the Look& Learn program which I otherwise would never have done and I also got to talk to the other intern doing a communications internship. She was really interesting and taught me a lot about French youth.

It definitely showed me a different side of life in Paris and I feel like I got to learn a lot about ex-pats in Paris which was really cool. I had a great time and really loved this internship. Everyone was super nice.

Fondation d’Art

Noah Purdy
Terra Foundation for American Art
Vassar College, VWPP Spring 2018

Tasks included in internship:

Copy editing, promotional newsletter design/creation, spreadsheets tracking grants/publication distribution/etc., data entry, research (image and text rights, academic/professional outreach for a publication project, etc.), miscellaneous communications and publications tasks

This internship was very well aligned to my interests and past experience, both of which concern art history. I had never worked at an art foundation before, but the Terra was definitely in the same realm as other museums I had interned with before. There was also a lot of interaction with materials from museums as well as scholars in the field, which directly related to my personal and professional interests. I was also able to copy edit and design a lot of newsletters, which was very familiar work from my extracurricular at Vassar on the school newspaper. Overall, a lot of the work was familiar but still allowed a lot of growth in terms of independence, personal organization and exposure.

I was initially a little unsure about committing to two full days of an internship, but in the end I’m very glad I did. Having Thursdays and Fridays committed to my stage definitely structured my weeks, so that was a tradeoff I had to make. However, (my supervisors) were very accommodating of my schedule, especially when I had to keep taking days off here and there when I had make-up classes at the Sorbonne and at Reid Hall. My experience at the Terra was rewarding in many ways, from professionally, since it connects perfectly with what I hope to do in the future and was great experience to have under my belt, to personally, since everyone was extremely, unbelievably friendly and it was a joy to speak and hear both French and English simultaneously. I really can’t stress how nice everyone was to me at the Terra, and we were all sad to part when I left. I know it’s kind of unusual to have worked a stage so intensely compared to others while abroad, but this experience felt almost tailor-made for me and was extremely satisfying, rewarding and positive overall. It was definitely a bit of a challenge at times to juggle classes and an internship and general immersion (especially travel), but I’m very, very glad I chose to stick with the internship.

I learned a lot about what a general art foundation does, especially an international one, which was not something I knew really anything about before. It was also really interesting to interact with everyone at the Terra, since there were people from France, the U.S., Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, etc., who were all fluent in French and deeply interested in art. I also learned a little bit about general French/European business, more from observation than anything else.

My experience at the Terra Foundation helped confirm my knowledge about what types of things I enjoy doing and am good at in a professional setting, all while challenging my skills in time management and general self-organization. I was definitely interested in museum/art historical work before, but my experience at my stage helped solidify that interest and expand how I think about the field and about my future within it.

Galerie d’Art

Claudia Schatz
Contemporary Art gallery assistant at the Select Café, Montparnasse
Wesleyan University, VWPP Spring 2018

I helped with five different accrochages/vernissages on Sunday mornings and evenings. I also interviewed the artists for each new exposition and then wrote a text about them and their art, which (the gallery director) Katy then edited before I published it online. I updated the gallery website, designed posters for expositions, and met with Katy on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

I am an art history minor and am interested in the art and art gallery world. I have also previously worked in an art gallery and special collections library so this internship gave me a more hands-on and direct experience with working with art and exposing modern art.

Interaction with the local population:

I spoke with Katy, the artists, and the families and friends of the artists during the accrochages and vernissages.

Katy edited my texts, introduced me to colleagues, friends, and other artists, and taught me about hanging and caring for the works of art that art displayed in the gallery.

It put me in contact with more French adults and gave me an opportunity to learn about artists in Paris and the art gallery world here. It also gave me the chance–and forced me–to speak regularly with strangers in French and to then synthesize our conversations into texts about their life and their work.

I learned about the process of finding an artist, planning and exposition, and presenting their work. I also learned that much of Katy’s work as a directrice is about networking and maintaining connections in order to find and display the art of new and talented artists. I also learned that because she is not paid, she has a lot of freedom with her work but still takes it very seriously and personally.

I recommend this stage to someone who is interested in art and wants a new experience speaking French that doesn’t require huge amounts of time. However, they should be prepared to be flexible and willing to wake up very early on Sundays.

Emma Gregoline
Contemporary Art gallery assistant at the Select Café, Montparnasse
Vassar College, VWPP Fall 2013

The gallery director was amazing, and so friendly, warm, and charming… we worked one-on-one a lot with the artists. It was interesting to meet and talk to all of the artists who exhibited their work there, as well as their friends and family who attended the “vernissages.” The people on the staff of the Select also became very familiar. I feel like I met so many French adults through this internship!

I wanted to be surrounded by art and people who are interested and inspired by art, and an added bonus was being able to design flyers or posters.

I helped to map out each exhibition within the space, hanging each piece on a movable hook, lifting/carrying things,… I assistied at gallery openings, made posters for exhibits, helped with the website.

The stage enriched my experience in that it gave me another outlet to practice my French outside of class and my host family, and also to see art from an insider’s perspective.

Entreprise internationale

Suyang Yang
Wesleyan University, VWPP Spring 2018

Regular tasks included in internship:

Data Analysis

How was the internship pertinent to your interests and/or background and experience?

Related to my Econ major and very different from what I’m used to doing. I learned a lot about data analysis.

I got a chance to experience a working environment in France and got a chance to make some friends at work.

(My supervisor) is super nice and helpful. She constantly asked me if everything was ok and made sure everything was in order.

What did you learn about local institutions, business, society, and people through your experience?

How to work for a consulting focused start-up and how to build your own company.

Drew Hardin
Vassar College, VWPP Spring 2018

Regular tasks included:

Translations, building a web page, looking at effectiveness of data collected from marketing campaigns. Drafted emails for prospective clients.

It was a cool opportunity to work in a French company. Gaining that perspective was cooler than any specific skills I gained in the position.

….everyone is super nice and helpful. TONS of work-room chatter.

Everyone spoke to me in French, but spoke to me in English when  (both interns were there at the same time) –not sure why

– used French in your internship?  50-70%

-used English in your internship? Less than 50%

Fondation NGO: Droits de l’homme

Theresa Ng’andu
Fondation Scelles
Swarthmore College, VWPP Spring 2018

I was writing a report on prostitution in Zambia. It had to be 8 pages maximum. It helped me learn about a problem of prostitution my country is facing, that I was not really aware of in the first place. I also got to understand a little bit more about the political views of the French, which was very interesting.

(My supervisor) basically gave us the freedom to research and write, and ask for help from the appropriate personnel whenever needed.

…in spite of being an NGO, they work just as hard as any other profit making business.

Estimate the amount of time you used French in your internship ?  More than 80%

I used to have lunch with them on Mondays, and I would chat with them over small tea breaks in the morning before work.


Crys Wright
Bénévolat à la Mie de Pain
Wesleyan University, VWPP Spring 2015

I had a very positive time at the association. Everyone was relatively nice and patient with me. They spoke little or no English so I really had to improve to have conversation. It put me in a situation where I had to rely on my French. After going each week I felt more comfortable with the language. It was nice to talk to people and learn about their stories.


Anne Dade
Bénévolat à la Mie de Pain
Wesleyan University, VWPP Fall 2014

I think that community service is very important and I felt strongly about doing it in Paris. I had never worked in a soup kitchen before, so there is obviously no experience necessary.

I managed dining hall tasks and served food to SDF and residents of the Mie de Pain shelter. I really liked the other volunteers. They were all very welcoming and showed me how to respectfully help out and interact with the SDF population.


Tess Morgan
Internship with a journalist
Wesleyan University, VWPP Fall 2014

We created a database of contacts, systemized the archives, acted as liaisons with various government agencies in France and in the Middle East and edited the upcoming book.

We were given a lot of responsibility and we expected to take the lead and accomplish everything that needed to be done. It was refreshing not to be babied. This internship has made me aspire to do something on the journalistic track later in life.