I've returned to my French class ... the topics of conversation seem to wander here and there. I like the materials used in the course because, as I've mentioned before, they incorporate topical issues into the class discussions. We've covered things like PACSing, worldwide news, etc.
This week we reviewed a variety of small job postings and candidate descriptions and were asked to try and match candidates to job openings. Well, themes like these wander around to discussions of all sorts of things.
Our 'professeur' (Laurence) asked us to describe employment application processes in our native countries (there are Scots, Irish, English and American in my group).
Interesting comments ensued. These conversations are meant to remain in French (naturally), and I had to ask one gal to repeat her remark a couple of times because I wasn't sure I was hearing it right.
But first, let me tell you that preceding this exchange...we had a bit of insight shared from Laurence concerning one of the 'petits boulots' ... she was telling us about changes underway in France to help reduce discrimination in job hunting. She pointed out that one of the ads mentioned the candidate was bilingual in Portuguese. She mentioned this could be a deterrent because many French, out in the countryside, only want French workers and might assume this candidate was not 'French'.
The conversations continued and a woman in class, after my asking for a repeat, commented that in England ... all one had to do was mention they were with the Taliban and they would be provided a job, council housing, free food and healthcare and all sorts of other things. Whereas the English would be left wanting.
Laurence got visibly nervous ... anticipating, I believe, a sharp retort from me. Frankly, the remark was so bereft of reason I passed. This same person insisted that the English were discriminated against in France because all of the non-EU 'etrangers' qualified for integration assistance but she (and her compatriots, I imagine) did not.
When I was discussing this with JY, he nodded and said that some French felt the same way or more strongly. And many French supported Sarkozy in his stricter immigration policies.
I mentioned in my class that I had met many folks, French included, who felt Sarkozy was racist. My comment was not met favorably, because apparently many of the folks in my class support stricter immigration policies as well! Has anyone read the text of Sarkozy's speech at Senegal's Cheikh Anta Diop University that to many smacked of not-so-long-ago colonialism?
I think in a future discussion it will be interesting to broach the topic further ... and inquire if they have pondered why our wealthier countries are more appealing to these foreign citizens ... and how would they feel, what would they do or want if the tables were turned?
JY also commented that he felt the homeland governments of immigrants were to blame as well. We discussed (or decried) why governments, rich and poor, didn't work more effectively together to reduce poverty and despair within their own borders so fewer of their citizens would be driven to immigrate for some basic standard of living.
I just find it very revealing of human nature that people want to lock down borders, preserve wealth only for 'natural' citizens and the hell with the rest of the world.