“In fact, I’m pretty spoiled when I travel . . . I always have a translator,” history teacher Anouxa Vixathep said about his experience traveling to France this past summer. While Vixathep returned home, his wife stayed in France and enrolled their kids in a school there.
As Vixathep is a history teacher, he has a passion for the history about WWI and WWII. He was fortunate to visit Verdun while travelling in France, where the biggest battle of WWI took place. While traveling the country, his family stayed in different parts of the country for about a week, but not without hassle. He, his wife Michele, and their five kids, Sophia, Ethan, Nolan, Elliot, and Samuel, traveled around by train. This was a little difficult because trying to round everyone up to catch each departure time was not always an easy task.
Michele, who is of French descent, and who has a deep interest for France, has helped to raise the children bilingually. “My daughter who is 12, Sofia, she is basically like a native speaker,” Vixathep said. “Ethan, he’s the nine-year-old, he’s pretty good, he’s fluent in his understanding, he’s fluent in speaking as well, but his vocabulary is not as good, but he’s also nine.”
Part of the reason the family travelled over 5,000 miles from Sandy to France, was to immerse the kids in the language. The Vixathep family took a similar trip in 2015, then again in 2018. They are planning to return every few years to enrich the kids in the French culture.
Currently, Michele has the five kids enrolled in a French public school and they will be there for a few more months. “They are able to keep up academically, as far as I know, there is not a language barrier,” he said. The kids are so comfortable with the language that they can keep up with the other native French students in their classes.
Although Vixathep is not as comfortable speaking the language, he feels confident in France because of his kids’ abilities to do so. “I always have a translator, I’m like, ‘Sofia you’re coming to the store with me,’” he said.
The biggest challenge for Vixathep to be separated from his family is the distance. “It’s hard, I’ve been home by myself I’m not used to living by myself,” Vixathep said.
Although it may be a struggle to live alone for a few months, the Vixatheps feel the sacrifice is worth the knowledge the children will come home with.