Hailing from the Ivory Coast

  • Visitors from the Ivory Coast joined the French IV and French V classes of Madame Hoss, Monsieur Nani, and Madame Richter-Seidenberg to share their experiences. Guest speakers Robert and Philomène Walbridge, retired teachers, were a wealth of information about the life in the African country and engaged the students in lively conversation for which the students had prepared their questions in French.

    “Rob is an American who went to the Ivory Coast as a Peace Corps volunteer after he graduated from Princeton in the 1970s,” Madame Richter-Seidenberg explained about the guests who also happened to be good friends of her family. “He met his wife, Philomène, while working in Abidjan.’

    The students had many questions about the Ivorian secondary school/college systems and were curious as to what holidays are celebrated in the Ivory Coast, since they do not celebrate Christmas. They questioned the type of foods eaten by Ivorians and expressed their concerned over the political unrest and revolution that occurred several years ago.

    “Both Rob and Philomène were living in the Ivory Coast with their daughter when the revolution broke out.” Madame Richter-Seidenberg added. “They could hear gunshots daily and were often under curfew. Rob moved back to the States with their teenage daughter who is finishing high school in Babylon, where Rob grew up.”

    In addition to political strife, the Sayville students were quite impressed to learn that over 60 languages are spoken in the Ivory Coast (varying by region), but they were most amazed to hear that students in Ivory Coast schools wore uniforms and would stand to greet the teachers whenever the adults entered the classroom.

     Although, the guests eventually bid adieu to the French classes, they left the students filled with images, stories, and overall, a better understanding of life on the Ivory Coast.