France - Salesian Hostels, a school of life

07 April 2017

(ANS - Lyon) - Life in common is of course a challenge for the hostels of the Salesian schools of France.  Educators need creativity and commitment. But how is life in a Salesian Hostel? Here are the testimonies of some of the educators.

At the Don Bosco Foundation in Nice, Bernard Chastang describes his best experience: "It was when I saw how the young trainee carpenters listened to the concert of their companions playing the cello who were residents in the same hostel." Sylvie Ducatel, a teacher of the Pressin Lyceum, highlighted another aspect: "one of the peculiarities is that there is no barrier between the young boarders who are doing apprenticeships and those in high school."

Of course, there are difficulties: "to really live in community, we have to force them to leave their rooms, to abandon their tablets and smartphones," adds Professor Chastang. In fact, Sr. Virginie Mérel, head of Don Bosco Lyceum of Lyon, explains that the Salesian Hostel aims to teach young people "to have a participatory spirit, to help each other, to meet others ... and we focus on attention to the most fragile or those who are struggling to integrate."

On the campus at Pouillé near Angers, a lot of work is done on the empowerment of young people. For example, during the holidays they do some filming, "getting their hands on audio-video equipment is something significant," explains the head of the centre, Jean-François Poto Dussine. The young people participate in various committees (reception, management, tutoring ...), in which "an adult is there only to guide them, not to do the work for them."

The presence of educators remains essential. "It is important for young people to know that there is an adult who is interested in them and willing to invest in what they are doing," says Jean-Jacques Kagan from the Lyceum at Ressins. Pascal Dumas emphasizes the importance of small gestures, "have a little respect for everyone, wish them good day, remember in the morning to leave the room in order and in the evening, spend some quality time with the young people, take an interest in the things they are interested in... These things require only a few minutes, but they create a lovely atmosphere of respect and help avoid a lot of nonsense."

The presence of educators also has a pastoral value: at the Don Bosco Lyceum, for example, the girls consider the sisters as their "grandmothers". In the evening they come and go between the hostel and the community house and they appreciate the time they spend together.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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