After 24 years of teaching French at the International School of Paris, Nadine Ferreira has decided that it's time for her to focus on family, especially her five grandchildren. To celebrate her career and retirement, we invited Nadine for an interview.
"In retrospect, I feel that my life actually reflects and fits the international character of the International School of Paris!" Nadine said when asked how she felt about retiring. "As a young student, my dream was to become a journalist. I felt that good language skills were essential in that job, so I studied English in addition to politics. I also wanted to explore the world, and spent a year in Glasgow studying local unions. That was good for my English skills as well!"
Life rarely goes the way one plans, and Nadine's course was changed when she fell in love and married a Portuguese business man with an international career. At that point Nadine started thinking that being a teacher might fit better with the expat life style, so she found a job as a lecturer in English at the 'Université Paris XIII'.
Their first move as a couple was to Lisbon, where Nadine ended up teaching French and learning Portuguese at Lisbon University. When they moved back to Paris after several years, Nadine finished her studies in linguistics (license de lettres modernes) in both French and Portuguese. Those years in Paris were busy, as the family grew to include two children: Sandra, born in 1977, and Fréderic, in 1980.
When the children were still young, Nadine and her family moved to Casablanca, where she gained her first experience of schools abroad. The children attended a French school, and Nadine, who was not teaching during that period, was active in the parents' association. From Morocco the family moved to Taiwan, where Nadine resumed her teaching career. "For us, Taiwan was almost like living in an expatriate bubble,'' she said. "The children attended The Morrison Academy in Taiwan, and I worked at the school as a French teacher. During the day I taught French to the American students, and in the evenings I taught English to the French children at the Mission laïque française."
Upon returning to Paris, the children went to a bilingual school and Nadine started at ISP as a French teacher. During the first five years she also taught at the Swedish school in Paris, so she has experience in many different types of school communities, both as a parent and as a faculty member. "It has been useful for me to have the international expat experience, as it has helped me to better understand and relate to the families at ISP," she said.
Twenty-four years is a long time, so Nadine has certainly seen the school evolve and develop. "Society has changed, so the school has had to change as well," she said. "Our community is much bigger now than when I first started, and what has changed the most are perhaps the communication patterns. However, there is still a very strong sense of community at ISP. Students feel comfortable here, and the student body is a tight, intimate network."
While Nadine is looking forward to being able to spend more time with her family, she wants to stay active in other spheres of life as well. One of her plans is to volunteer for the "Association pour le développement des échanges internationaux" in Saint-Cloud, to promote international activities and celebrations in the local area.
"In today's world, it's important to build bridges, not walls. I would like to continue the important work of supporting international understanding even after I retire."