Any Star Trek fans reading this will instantly recognize the phrase “resistance is futile” as something uttered by the Borg, a society that goes from planet to planet forcibly incorporating those helpless inhabitants into the all-controlling world of the Borg. Although you could use the word “assimilation” for this process, we plan that our journey into French culture and society will be much more pleasant and certainly not forced. My hope, in fact, is that once we have been resident there long enough to be eligible for citizenship we will take that opportunity especially since we would remain US citizens as well. One of the requirements for that new citizenship is to show that you have become assimilated into the community where you live. We have visited many villages, towns, and cities around France where immigrants have gathered themselves into segregated communities speaking their original language, observing their own rituals, and otherwise behaving as if had moved their own country into France. We have seen this with residents from former French colonies and also with English-speaking immigrants.
For us, assimilation means blending into the culture where we have chosen to live. While I imagine we will still have a 4th of July picnic or a Thanksgiving meal, especially if we can celebrate these days with new French friends, I can see adapting those to grilling local sausages instead of hot dogs and replacing that 25-pound turkey with just a turkey breast. In other words, we can still be ourselves and fit into our new surroundings at the same time. Resistance will indeed be futile.
How do we plan to fit in? We are lucky that in Carcassonne the mayor is out at some official event at least once a week, be it to open a new business, to officiate at a council meeting, or to welcome dignitaries from Paris or another country. These are all chronicled on YouTube and open to the public where we will “be seen”. We may not understand much of what is being said, but we are bound to generate interest as those Americans who keep showing up. A second thing that we’ll do is to participate in an organization abbreviated as AVF, which we might in the US call the Welcome Wagon. Newcomers can find out all about the city plus take French language lessons and we hope to volunteer to assist with English classes. They organize an amazing number of outings including hikes, biking trips, wine tastings, and other events to introduce new residents to all the offerings of the city. Naturally we will seek out other English speakers too since we are all part of the same community.