ITER NOW 1.4: Welcome to France


“With more than 35 Nations, 30,000 People,
and a million components working together, we share one simple goal: to illuminate the
way to new energy. For 14 years, the Agence ITER France Welcome
Office has helped many hundreds of new ITER employees and their families acclimate to
their new lives in Provence. As part of the French Atomic Energy Commission
of the neighboring Cadarache facility, the Welcome Office helps new hires arrange work
visas and find homes in nearby cities and villages. But perhaps most importantly, the welcome
office is a bridge connecting ITER staff with opportunities to immerse themselves in the
language and culture of France and the international workplace environment.” “As the Welcome Office, we are here, in
addition to the administrative stuff, to create a link link between people. We love sharing our culture. This is why we organize dedicated events,
mostly focused on the French language. But when you want to learn a language, you
need to learn the culture of the language.” “Well, we organize this Chandeleur breakfast
for the recent newcomers of ITER and the ITER project associates to introduce them to the
French culture – the French eating culture that is so important to French people. The Chandeleur is also a nice way to share
a basic recipe, to show them how to do it, so they can do it at home later – and connect,
meet each other, and to get to know each other better.” “There’s a lot of expertise gathered together
here at ITER – most of it is technical, but we’ve got this huge cultural pool to
draw on. And it’s a wonderful opportunity for people
to learn from each other, not just the technical side but also the cultural side.” “We have to promote the French language,
because that’s their new environment for their daily life. This is the language they need to learn. But of course English is essential. This is why we have set up some English Lunches
to help people improve their English, to exchange, and in fact to create links between people
as well.” “The idea of just sitting down to eat, just
gently getting on with conversation, which is exactly how the languages were designed
to be used – they were never designed to be used in the classroom. They were designed to be picked up gradually
by people saying, ‘Can you pass me that? I like this.’ Using the sample simple phrases over and over
again, we get people to join in, to ask questions when they don’t understand something.” “Very recently I noticed that there is this
English Lunch. I realized that it’s a good opportunity
to improve my English. It does take courage to do this.” “English is of course the common language
at ITER, but of course it is very difficult for us to speak English fluently. But this is a good opportunity to learn.” “It’s interesting to practice out of work
and be able to understand the English spoken by many, many different nations.” “This is what is very interesting working
in the Welcome Office but as well very challenging, because the way of life, the way of thinking
is quite different, and sometimes it’s difficult to communicate.” “In the work environment, we can speak English
and we can understand each other.” “Technical English is very closed and definite. Conversation is different. You get expressions. You understand better… in French, the ‘nuance’
of the language.” “Coming to work at ITER is like coming to
visit all the countries in the world. All the countries of the world have come to
visit me. It’s a very easy way to travel. It might be called Lunches in English, but
of course the ideas that are being expressed are coming from Chinese, from Japanese, from
all the different nationalities that are sitting around the table. So I’m learning new things.” “When people really want to make a connection,
we learn from each other. We love the personal connection with these
people with their culture so far away from ours.” “You can hear that my English is not so
good, but I practice. That is the principle.” “You may know that I’m very shy, but I
try to encourage myself to join this big opportunity.” “What is very important is that people can
communicate with us but also with the other people, the other newcomers and say ‘Oh,
you just arrived this month? You too? Yeah OK.’ Something happens in that moment. You feel good when you see that.” “So far on ITER NOW, we’ve explored some
of the human and cultural aspects of the project. Next, we’ll spend each week diving deeper
into the scientific and technical side of things. So stay tuned, and we’ll see you next time,
on ITER NOW.”

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