Manon ‘dwi i. I am in my final year of Master’s degree in International Cultural Relations in Albi, France and am currently finishing off my internship with Routes into Languages Cymru and the MFL Student Mentoring project.
My experiences with Routes Cymru have been significant and highly rewarding on many levels. Being part of such a professional and enthusiastic team has been extremely valuable for my future career.
Throughout my internship, I have been trusted with many tasks, including helping to prepare events, talking with pupils about the benefits of learning languages but also being a judge during the Spelling Bee national event.
Languages are part of who I am and they shape the way I look at the world. I was born in a truly French environment and only discovered languages at the age of 9 when we started taster sessions in Spanish in my school. I was not introduced to English until the age of 11, when I entered sixième in collège, which could be the equivalent of Key Stage 4 in Wales. My passion and my thirst of knowledge for English grew rapidly and I went on my first trip to England, without my parents, at the age of 13. Throughout my education, I have studied English, Spanish, German and Italian and I have spent two years living in the United States, six months in Spain and I am now about to go home after six months in Cardiff. Living in a different country and using languages have changed me and made me who I am today. They also gave me a lot of opportunities, one of which was being able to become an intern with Routes Cymru. I have found this fascinating as I am a strong believer in the promotion of languages, therefore, being a part of this project and meeting fascinating teachers, pupils and language promoters has been life changing.
Two events I recently participated with Routes Cymru were the Language Feast and the National Final of the Spelling Bee Competition. The first event was the Language Feast at Bangor University in June. First of all, having the opportunity to go to the other side of the country and discover breathtaking landscapes was incredible. Then, it was utterly fascinating to be part of the organisation of this event as I have been able to witness team work and problem solving. During the day of the event, I was in charge of welcoming some of our partners (including the Goethe Institut, International School Linking, Airbus Broughton etc.).
Our National Coordinator from the North, Rubén, gave a welcome speech at the end of which I entered the room, dressed as a chef to tell everybody that the Language Feast was ready. Being multilingual has its tricks as I was able to say it in different languages!
“The feast is ready” “le festin est prêt” “el festín está listo” “Iechyd da”
I was then in charge of a group of eight pupils from Eirias and we attended three different workshops.
- We first talked during our “starter session” about Europe and the importance of languages with Tim Penn and Europe Direct Wrexham. I was very pleased to see how amazed the pupils were and how curious about languages and the world they were. It means the world to be able to see their faces light up when they discover something new and exciting.
- We then went for our “main course session” with the MFL Mentoring project with whom we learnt about the International Space Station. We also had the chance to become astronauts ourselves and use our language and problem solving skills in order to complete several missions in Runglish (a mix of Russian and English). It was amazing to see Year 7 pupils collaborating on this to crack a code and realise what they can do with languages.
- Finally, we had our “dessert session” with the Centre of Sign-Sight-Sound with whom we learnt sign-language. Through this session the pupils could enjoy a new way of communicating and they were astonished at their own capacity to sign and they had big smiles on their faces when our provider could understand what they were saying without using their voice.
Finally, it is for me impossible to talk about my internship without mentioning our national event: The Spelling Bee Final. This event was held at Swansea University which gave me, again, the opportunity to grasp the fact that Routes Cymru is a pan-Wales project and holds events throughout the country. During this event, I was a judge for the first round of the French competition. This position was really interesting as I could understand more completely how the competition was run. It was also a difficult job, as all the pupils deserved to be recognized for their efforts in learning one hundred words in a foreign language. I co-judged with Paul Kaye, from the European Commission which was for me an honour. After my judge’s duties were over, I was around the rooms, making sure that no one needed anything. Before the final round, I had the chance and opportunity to meet the Lord Mayor of Swansea with whom I talked about the event and Routes Cymru as a pan-Wales project. Throughout the day, I was also in charge of the social media, especially of tweeting about the event. We hoped to make our #SpellBeeCymru18 a trending hashtag. Even though we did not complete this mission, it was really amazing to see the different schools, judges and guests use it and, with this, creating a community around languages.
It is now time for me to go back home, to Southern France, present my dissertation on my internship here, in Cymru and look for a job which will hopefully be as stimulating and interesting as my internship in Cardiff has been. I would like to give a special merci to Claire, diolch to Meleri, gracias to Rubén and thank you to Kate and Rachel for allowing me be part of your team and providing me with life-changing skills and aspirations.
By Manon Zarzycki
Follow Manon’s journey on her twitter page here: @ManonZii