In the semester of Spring 2022, Almira Arnold (Bowdoin), Bashudha Dhamala (Williams) and Salwa Sidahmed (Hamilton) volunteered at a basketball club for teenage girls located in the north of Paris to help the young players with their English practice. They describe this valuable experience in the community.

Almira Arnold ’23 :

“Teaching English with Paris Basket 18 has been one of the highlights of my semester here! The girls are quite sweet. While sometimes I’ve helped them with their assigned English homework, we do also get to play different games together such as UNO, Spot It, and a variation of Scategories.

One of my favorite days was when I helped them learn a dance to Jerusalema using an English tutorial video, which was actually one of their homework assignments! I’ve definitely gotten to practice finding ways to keep the process of learning English exciting, and it’s been a fun experience for me too.

The most important thing I’ve learned, however, is navigating their different confidence levels with the English language; usually the girls know more than they think they do, and they can also be helpful teachers to each other!”

Bashudha Dhamala :

“My experience with the Paris Basket 18 was amazing. I never thought it would be so easy to build the rapport with the girls so that they feel comfortable with the experience.

But they were all so kind and prepared to learn from the beginning that they would jump up with questions the second we’d make an entrance or run to the whiteboard to play games.

Overall, it’s been a very important part of my time in Paris and I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to do it. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to teach or interact with the youth in the community.”

Salwa Sidahmed :

“My time at Paris Basket 18 was a significant part of my study abroad experience. Every week, I looked forward to the two hours I spent with the girls on Mondays.

Though a large part of my role was to act as an English tutor to them, they also taught me a lot: they are kind, funny, and sweet. They’re also eager to learn, which allowed me to explore creative methods to best teach them.

To satisfy their playful and competitive personalities, we used UNO, Pictionary, and Hangman to practice the expressions assigned in class. We would also chat for hours: mostly in English, and sometimes in French.

Through our conversation, they were able to learn and retain new English words and I also gained a lot of vocabulary (I now not only know that Hangman is known as Pendu in France, but also how to use the word ‘wesh’!).

I had so much fun at PB18 and learned a lot about teaching English as well as building relationships with local youth. I feel so lucky to have had this experience, and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to further enrich their time in Paris!

[Photos courtesy of Almira Arnold, Bashudha Dhamala and Salwa Sidahmed]