Leïla Urvoy – An original profile at Alliance Française de Trivandrum

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Under the aegis of the Fondation Alliance Française, the global network of Alliance Françaises are charged with the mission of promoting French language and culture. Like their counterparts around the world, the Alliance Françaises in India and Nepal collaborate with various like-minded organisations – global and local, French and foreign – to accomplish this mission. An excellent example of this cooperation is Leïla Urvoy, a Service Civique teacher at Alliance Française de Trivandrum.

The Service Civique or Civic Service was created in accordance to the law of March 10, 2010 by Martin Hirsch. It is a unique initiative of the French government which aims to strengthen national cohesion and promote social diversity. The service offers the opportunity to young people between 16 and 25 years, or between 16 and 30 years for a differently-able person, to take up a mission of general interest in 9 different domains – Education, Solidarity, Health, Culture and Leisure, Environment, International and Humanitarian Development, Memory and Citizenship, Sports and Emergency Responses to Crises.

As part of the Service CiviqueLeïla’s responsibilities at Alliance Française de Trivandrum are diversified. They include teaching French, taking part in cultural activities and organising workshops (conversation, games, dance etc.) to get people interested in French culture. We conducted a brief interview with her to get more insight into both the Service and and her life at Trivandrum.

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself? 

My name is Leïla Urvoy and I am 22 years old. I grew up in Combloux, which is a small city in the east of France, in the Alpes. I was fluent in French from a young age and, coupled with a strong desire to see the world, decided to study Français Langue Etrangère (FLE) via the correspondence courses at Alliance Française de Paris. After two years, I got my DAEFLE which is a diploma that certifies that I have the competency to teach French to foreigners.

I had forwarded my CV to a number of Alliances Françaises and other organizations in France and abroad and ultimately got accepted by the Service de Coopération au Développement i.e. the Service of Cooperation in Development or SCD. After the initial stages, I was trained on intercultural issues. Two months later, they offered me a post at Alliance Française de Trivandrum to teach French for eleven months. I immediately accepted and now here I am!

Leïla Urvoy, the Service Civique Teacher, conducting a French Class at Alliance Française de Trivandrum

Leïla Urvoy, the Service Civique Teacher, conducting a French Class at Alliance Française de Trivandrum

Would it be possible to tell us a bit more about the Civic Service and the SCD?

The Civic Service is an opportunity for young people, with or without degrees and irrespective of their educational and professional background, to commit themselves to different missions in France or abroad. It enables young and motivated people to work in a range of fields. But you can benefit from this just once in your life.

The SCD is a French organisation which sends volunteers on long-term missions ranging from 6 months to two years to back local development projects. Officially, SCD is my employer and they guided and prepared me for my mission in Alliance Française de Trivandrum. They will keep a track of what I do here and later, when I return to France, they will help me find another project. Therefore, SCD is very helpful for young people who seek professional exposure in reputed organisations. 

And what motivated you to choose Alliance Française de Trivandrum

I had asked the SCD for a position in Asia, Latin America or Sub-Saharan Africa. They had received an offer from Alice Gauny who is the Director of Alliance Française de Trivandrum. Consequently, the SCD offered me that option. I had always wanted to see India and accepted the offer without any hesitation!

Leïla Urvoy, the Service Civique Teacher, conducting a French Class at Alliance Française de Trivandrum

Leïla Urvoy, the Service Civique Teacher, conducting a French Class at Alliance Française de Trivandrum

How do you feel in Trivandrum?

In the beginning, I felt a bit lost but, little-by-little, I have gotten used to my day-to-day life here. I enjoy being with my roommates with whom I share nice meals and good conversations. We even travel together sometimes on week-ends. Besides, the staff at AF Trivandrum welcomed me warmly and gave me a list of the most useful addresses (markets, shops, post-offices etc.). Additionally, they allowed me to manage administrative procedures which which made me feel like a part of the team. What also helps is that the local people are very friendly and helpful.

Recently you took part in a conversation workshop. What were your impressions of the same?

I loved it, it was very entertaining! I reckon students had a lot of fun and hopefully the workshop will continue as an effective means of popularising the French language. It is also an excellent way of building trust between students and teachers. The students were very happy and told us that they would like to have more sessions of conversation workshops.

To conclude, how do you like India so far?

I really like the country! There are many picturesque places to visit, beautiful coloured garments, a fantastic variety of animals etc. Nevertheless, it requires time to understand the society. We have to learn a lot to catch up with the complex culture but it is mostly an exciting and funny experience. In another context, it would have been great to visit the country as a backpacker. However, I think it is an intense and enriching experience to work with local people, share their day-to-day life, start understanding the way they live and the way they think.

 Timothée PIGEON

Alliance Française de Trivandrum

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Rédaction

Directeur de publication : Délégation Générale de la Fondation Alliance Française en Inde et au Népal

Rédacteur en chef : Laurent Elisio Bordier

Rédacteur/Coordinateur national : Siddharth Bhatt

Rédacteurs, contributeurs : Guillaume, Abhirami, Alexandre, Chintan, Cléa, David, Eleonore, Elie, Kanika, Karine, Nita, Thomas, Malvika, Marie-Joëlle, Meera, Mayuri, Mitushi, Alice, Prutha, Romain, Ritika, Manas, Supriya ...