Burnt Mill teacher from France tells of tragedy of Paris terrorist murders

Communities / Tue 17th Nov 2015 at 02:26am

EtienneWHEN teacher Guylaine Ganzhorn received a text to say her sister was alive and well, she had no idea of the significance.

It wasn’t until she saw news of the horrifying terror attacks in Paris that she gave a huge sigh of relief.
Ms Ganzhorn moved to Harlow from her home in St Etienne, France, five years ago to be a French teacher at Burnt Mill Academy, in First Avenue.

The majority of her family remain in St Etienne, while her sister and numerous friends live and work in Paris.
She said: “I received a text from my mum on Friday night to say my sister was ok, but I didn’t understand what she meant. The next day, lots of friends began contacting me to tell me about the attacks in Paris and, of course, by then it was also on the news. Thankfully, my sister was at home and was completely fine.”
The teacher, who also teaches Spanish at Burnt Mill, has been overwhelmed by the messages of support and concern she has received since the attacks.

She said: “Lots of caring parents emailed me over the weekend as they know I have relatives still in France, which was absolutely lovely of them. This is the time it’s very important we have this belief in solidarity – which is one of the Burnt Mill Co-operative Academy Trust’s values – and humanity. At times like this, we have to focus on these positives.

“I spoke with my form on the first morning back about what has happened. They had already heard about it over the weekend. The best thing we can do is to talk about it and to tackle the misconceptions about what has happened.

As a languages teacher, I am here to teach languages, but also to help children to understand the different aspects of cultures around them. That is really important. If young people are aware of these things, maybe they can be prevented from happening.”

Ms Ganzhorn is looking forward to seeing her sister in two weeks’ time when she takes a pre-planned trip to the affected city.

She said: “I have spoken to my sister and she said we have to carry on with our lives as best we can and to learn lessons. The terrorists will win if we cancel our trips to Paris and I don’t want that. The risks are the same wherever you are; it could happen anywhere.

“It is very upsetting for everyone in Paris at the moment. As a French person, it is not what I want to see. It is absolutely terrible and I hope it stops now. Seeing the solidarity around the world is fantastic.”

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