Take It From Me: Paul Marie Blanchard

This globetrotting educator enjoys talking to taxi drivers, going jungle trekking and working for French schools all over the world.

by / Published: 3 Oct 2017

Take It From Me: Paul Marie Blanchard
Photo: French School of Kuala Lumpur

Occupation:  Primary Director at the French School of Kuala Lumpur
Nationality: French
Time in Malaysia: 4 years

A classroom career
I started working as a primary teacher in France, but even then I knew I wanted to work abroad. At 28, I was teaching in the United States – in Louisiana and later on in New York. I also had the opportunity to work in Italy for nine years, in Rome and Milan.

It was an incredible experience; I truly loved working for French schools in different parts of the world.

London to Kuala Lumpur
I’ve always wanted to work in an English-speaking country. I was attracted to Asia – its culture and lifestyle. After my first expat posting as a Primary Director in London, I looked for other opportunities and I was lucky to find the same position here in Malaysia.

When I first arrived here, I used to go jungle trekking with my teenagers. We also enjoyed travelling to Malacca on weekends and having delicious burgers at the incredible Baboon House restaurant!

Malaysian culture  
What fascinates me the most is the multiculturalism here, the people with their kindness, warmth and welcoming ways; and the food, of course! When I first arrived in Malaysia, I didn’t expect to find such a variety of food from all over the world. It is surely the best place in Asia for food.

I find that Malaysians are very open-minded people and are very curious about France and its political situation.

Keeping connected
As I am quite old-fashioned, I have yet to join the Facebook community! I prefer meeting friends around KL for a drink, a good meal and a chat for hours. Other than the AEFE network (the International French School network), I am not part of any other expatriate associations in Malaysia.

I enjoy talking with local taxi drivers who know more about football teams in France and Europe than me. My only regret I have is not being able to speak Malay.     

Weekend treats
I love Indian restaurants and you’ll find really nice ones in Bangsar. Din Tai Fung in Pavilion is a must and that is where I always take my friends for dinner. I also like Sushi Zanmai in 1 Mont Kiara mall and the Malaysian restaurant Chawan in Publika.

To enjoy a nice cocktail while watching the sunset, I would suggest the Heli Lounge Bar as it offers an amazing view of Kuala Lumpur.

Bilingual education

When choosing a school, expats should ask themselves which education is best for the child’s future and career choices later on. I advise parents to enroll their kids at the French School of Kuala Lumpur at the kindergarten stage because it’s easier to learn French at a young age.

It’s a great opportunity for toddlers to learn two languages and communicate fluently in English and in French eventually. Later on, they can learn German, Spanish or Chinese, which are languages they can learn until secondary school.

Future plans

In a school like ours, with students comprising 36 different nationalities, we’ve taken into account the children’s origins and language diversity. We want to make sure that every non-French speaking student has an adapted education.

Our school is open to multiculturalism: students here have a great sense of tolerance and friendship. With the opening of Hevea, our new kindergarten this year, we hope to see more local and expatriate children enrolling for an opportunity to learn and speak two languages well.