The past few weeks have been very eventful. I have been meeting different people and associations in Villeneuve and I now got a voluntary workplace at a “Café associatif” in the “Centre des habitants” in la Villeneuve. It is a little café where you can drink a coffee in good company, try out the “plat de jour” or just meet people during cultural events and workshops. I have been enjoying spending time there, and apart from the fact that I get to speak a lot of French, I have been meeting very interesting people. In fact, it just seems to be a perfect way to get really involved and see things from a more inside point of view.
But there are also things that I am worrying about. Basically, people keep introducing me to new people and I have had many interesting conversations but I keep having the problem of not knowing at what point it was necessary to make it clear that I am going to do a research on Villeneuve. I have always vaguely mentioned it- sometimes more direct than others depending on the situation- but I was and still am hesitating because in the first place, I am looking for a way to meet French people and get involved somehow. This engagement is definitely not only as a researcher and I don’t want to be seen only as a researcher, as the main reason for it is my personal interest.
Apart from the ethical issues that have been in my mind, by spending three afternoons a week in Villeneuve I am starting to get to know the place and its people better and better. I feel really welcomed and there is a good spirit around. What I noticed most is that there are a lot of things going on: so many associations meeting, whether to spend time together or to discuss the renovation project, so many people thinking about ways to improve the place where they live in. An example is a workshop that makes children dream about their “quartier parfait” – a way to include even children –the future- in the planning for Villeneuve. All this time spending there is making me really excited for the new experiences that I am living in la Villeneuve.