Thomas & France: the first telling of TPMP

Once again, Vicolocorto has organised a series of meetings called “Ti presento il mio Paese” (Let me introduce you my country). The opening session took place on Wednesday, 25th February 2015, at Biblioteca San Giovanni, in Pesaro (Italy).

The aim of this project is to show people in Pesaro what other countries look like thorugh the voices of those who have lived in them. Besides the stories of European volunteers in Pesaro, who will cover Czech Republic, Poland and Turkey, the audience will have the chance of listening to the stories of Italian volunteers who travelled to other countries for an EVS period.

For this first meeting, Thomas Saint-Leger from Lille talked about his homeland, France. Thomas has been volunteering at Vicolocorto for few months, as many others EVS before him.

Since France is a well-known country in Italy, Thomas decided to focus his presentation on his hometown, Lille. He decided to project some pieces of “Welcome to the Sticks” (Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis), a famous French film, to better illustrate the stereotypes that French people have against Nord-Pas de Calais and its inhabitants.

While showing funny scenes from the film, Thomas analysed the various stereotypes in them and explained the different features characterising Nothern French people. As an example, foreigner could find local food and drinks quite hard to digest. However, people does not drink as much as we could imagine. Furthermore, the local dialect, called Ch’ti, is not spoken by so many people as we may think, especially in bigger cities, such as Lille. Nevertheless, the weather is cold, rainy and grey, no doubts about it!

The purpose of the presentation is to prove that stereotypes about Nord-Pas de Calais refer to a region which does not exist anymore. Indeed, in spite of the fact that Lille used to be an important minerary place, nowadays it is a dynamic, elegant and fascinating city, full of students and cultural events.

How did you feel before/during your presentation?

I was actually quite nervous before the presentation because, except for a few times during classes, I had never spoken for that long in front of an audience. But once it started, I was already feeling better. I think doing it in the morning in front of a few students helped a lot.
What were the main difficulties?
Finding a topic was not easy, and even when I found it I didn’t have so much time to implement it as much as I wanted. But in the end, I was still quite satisfied about my work. Then, during the presentation, I guess the main difficulty was juggling between my speech in English and the translation in Italian.

Why do you think this presentation is important?

I think it can give people a nice point of view, probably different than the one they already have, about a foreign country. France is quite well known, that’s why I decided to focus mainly on my region, but for the next presentations (Czech Republic, Poland…) it can be very useful and spread some info that people wouldn’t have looked for themselves.

If you could go back in time what would you have done differently?

I guess I would try to go deeper in the explanations I gave about the stereotypes that the rest of France has about my region and about the typical things that we have. But, mostly, I should have not been that stressed because it was a really good experience.

Are you happy with the feedback of the public?

Yes, I really am. People seemed interested and they had a few questions at the end. There was also a man who came to me to tell me about his experience in Paris. It was very nice!

Thomas

Chiara

Tommaso

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