Richie, former beneficiary of the Community Development Program and CAMELEON Child Ambassador, came to France in October since he committed to a year-long civic service within the Apprentis d’Auteuil foundation in Lisieux. Right after landing, he came visit us in Paris and shared his expectations and apprehensions with us.

Four months have passed since his arrival, and it is now time for us to check-up on him:

 So how have you been? How is your new life?

The first few months have been very quiet. It feels weird to come and live into a different world, with both a culture and a language that I do not understand, but it is very exciting. It is an adventure and I learn new things everyday!

Tell us all about it! Were your first four months on mission like you imagined they would be?

[Note: Richie committed to a civic service and has three missions: being the English teacher’s assistant, promoting heath prevention and studying hotel management].

As of now, my main mission has been to assist the English teacher. It feels strange to talk to 15 to 17 year-olds who are much taller than you and to introduce yourself as a teacher! Despite that, there is a real mutual support with the students – I help them, and they help me become independent. For the first time in my life, I am learning how to live on my own and how to take care of myself. I am growing up thanks to this experience. Concerning my other missions, I told my story and talked about our Filipino advocacy actions, and as far as catering goes, I do not feel ready yet since speaking French fluently is required for this. But it will happen soon enough!

You had told us that you were fearful of a “culture shock”, so how did you manage to adapt? The French language must have no secrets for you anymore!

It is very complicated! I do not speak French fluently and people do not speak English very well. It is really hard to communicate, but I still manage. T
he French language… you conjugate everything. And genders (!), I do not understand this concept at all. Filipino is much easier, “Tito/Tita”. In French, you have completely different words! And French people are very different from Filipino people. They are stressed and always want to do everything better than good. In the Philippines, they take their time, are a lot more relaxed and most of all are always smiling!

As-tu partagé ton histoire ? Parlé des Philippines et de CAMELEON ? Comment les gens réagissent ?
Have you shared your story, the Philippines and CAMELEON? How do people react?

Yes, especially in the beginning! People were very curious, a lot of them only know the Philippines by name and were very suprised.

What about French food – are you a fan or not? 

So you French people really love your cheese, wine, bread and coffee ! I got used to it, but I do not love it… But still a fan!

What are your final thoughts?

Even though it is hard, I love what I am doing. The first few months were hard, but it got better.

We would like to thank Richie for this testimony full of honesty.