Having posted on here last, with a very favourable and positive result of my initial visit to the Pole d'Emploi, I was referred for a four day 'targeting and finding work course', and was eager to begin this. I have a, possibly misguided, faith in the rumbling machine of annoymous government systems, and felt that I might be included and encouraged and feel at one with my fellow job seekers. My life here in France has, after all, been punctuated by a thousand acts of random kindness.
The first day, was OK, we had various discussions on the 'hidden' job market etc., and I thought all was well. I've lived here a long time, my understanding of French and vocabulary is fast and fairly vast. I had to ask what the word 'tamalou' was, to much amusement, but otherwise I understood all and took part in all of the excercises. I was asked pretty damned quick during a talk on 'rights' if I was claiming the 'chomage', and explained that I wasn't because although I pay cotisisations on my husbands salary for my son and I, my husband is Canadian and therefore not covered by the system, and I haven't actually had a salary here myself. So am not therefore relieving the French government of a sou.
I thought I was doing quite well, the advisor was pleasant. But... Day two, we had a different advisor, who, asked if I was a foreigner and then proceeded to make me the butt of every negative remark, joke and sneer with a the zeal of a schoolyard bully. To my horror after a short while of quiet sniggering the other 14 started to join in. I was called geneé and everybody laughed when it was said, and someone did a football chant of 'France pour la Francaise' which was taken up by another couple of people. I stuck it out and finished the course, all four wretched days of it.
I chatted to my fellow students in the coffee breaks, and they made it evident that this was 'nothing personal' but that I should not be competing for French jobs, and that I'm simply Not French. At the end I was given a Bilan, that stated I had integrated and taken part in all the course, but that I 'have an English accent which will hamper communication with others'
I am going back next week to a CV workshop, and will complain about the treatment I received before. I discussed it with a couple of French friends and they were most embarassed, but said that they weren't too astonished because they'd heard similar stories, though not involving English immigrants. I am evidently naieve, but I have never before experienced this sort of behavior, mercifully. It's sort of swayed my thinking. It had never occurred to me that I was disliked 'just' because I'm English.
I am just feeling a bit disheartened, and perhaps a bit got at. I will pick myself up and hurl myself back into this fray. However, I do think I have a point in being somewhat cross. I have never spoken a word of English with any French resident (except when requested for language learning) in the ten years I have lived here. I have tried so hard to integrate at times I feared I would implode. I shall not let this deter me, but must say I am losing some of my Mary Poppins veneer.
Have I just encountered a 'one off' horrid person and sheeplike followers? Now I've stuck my head above the parapet am I likely to have this experience more often? I am not a whimp, but this really was unnecessary unpleasantness for no good reason.