Third Presentation in La Paz

Session 1 :
When : Wednesday, 26th September 2012
Where : Alliance française, La Paz, Bolivia
Level : 1e et 2ème années de français
Pupils : 28
Lenght : 1h30
Telling the story of : Dedalos and the labyrinth
Stories told by the teenagers : 8

Session 2 :
When : Thursday, 27th September 2012
Where : Alliance française, La Paz, Bolivia
Level : 3e et 4e années de français
Pupils : between 15 and 20
Lenght : 1h30
Telling the story of : the foundation of Rome
Stories told by the teenagers : 6

On the last days of September, we realized two mythological presentations at the Alliance Francaise in La Paz, Bolivia. The first group was constituted of teenager students between 13 and 16 years old beginning their studies in French, while the second one included students between 13-14 years old with four years of french studies already done.

Although we were not used to deal with teenagers, both groups were very participative, and we collected many interesting traditional stories of Bolivia, mostly told in french, and sometimes finished in spanish. For the first one, it was a bit difficult at first to tell the story with simpler words, especially for the most complicated parts of the myth of Dedalus, trying to get them more clearly articulated, stopping from time to time to check if they had understood the main plot of the drama. Fortunately, the beautiful fresque painted by Janyce helped a lot in figuring the main parts off, and we had previously written down on the board the names of the characters, so that it would be easier to associate the sounds with their complicated french orthography.

The teenagers were all very shy, and wouldn’t talk easily at first, or ask questions about the story : yet, once involved in their own story to tell, they tried their best to speak in french, some of them with the help of their teacher, some others using the board to illustrate chosen scenes. One of the girl told us a beautiful moral story about bearing pain and sufferance of life, as they tell it in her family, while others told us about the legends of some streets of La Paz, Potosi or Oruro.

Later on, talking with the teachers about this experience, we received a lot of useful pieces of advice to apply in the future, especially for beginners in French : stopping from time to time and asking what’s going on for the storytelling, making smaller groups of two or three so they can discuss the meaning of the story heard before they speak out loud, trying to articulate and talk very slow in French… we shall keep them in memory for sure!

The second group, the next day, was even shier at first, but the teenagers got very interested by the story of the foundation of Rome : who was right, Remus or Romulus? Why did Romulus kill Remus? They diligently copied the genealogy of the alban kings that Janyce had written on the board, then began to ask little questions about Rome, the she-wolf, the shepherds Faustulus and Acca Larentia, if there were still Monsters in France… They seemed to understand well the story, and then began to work in little groups to tell their own legends. And this time we didn’t forget to add a significant conclusion, asking them to answer to some questions : why do we tell stories? what’s the use of legends? why do we have different versions of the same story?

One group even chose to tell a greek myth, the tragic yet beautiful story of Orpheus and Eurydice… surprising!

The teenagers were sometimes shy, sometimes funny, polite or distant, at first difficult to approach : however, their participation really enjoyed us and helped us in collecting traditional Bolivian myths!

For the drawings and a first transcription of the stories told by the teenagers af La Paz (in French), please look here. Enjoy!