Representation Matters: Working in the French Banlieues
When I first applied to teach abroad, there was a section of the application that asked if I was willing to work in a Zone Urbaine Sensible (ZUS). Sensitive Urban Zone is just a fancy term for po’ & run down. A ZUS typically has a high percentage of public housing, high rates of unemployment, and very low percentages of high school degrees. In the United States we tend to refer to these places as the inner-city, but in Paris most of these neighborhoods are found in les banlieues just outside of the city.
So knowing all of this before applying, I reluctantly marked a check in the square box. Why on earth would I agree to this, you ask? A couple reasons. The main reason being I was desperate to get into the program and thought that since many people would say no, this might help my chances. The second reason is because I wanted to have students from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. I grew up in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and I am just in general used to that type of environment. But I didn’t imagine how much I would enjoy the experience.