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Hi. My name’s Kathryn and last year I worked as a language assistant in Moufia, in the north of Reunion Island. It didn’t take long to realize that the twelve-hour contract left me with a lot of time to spare and most of my friends quickly posted adverts online to get some extra cash. I resisted at first, but then jumped on the bandwagon and put an ad up offering my services as an English language tutor. I had a fair bit of response and was excited to meet new people and help them with their English.

One day, about three months ago, I received a really appealing request from someone called Michel. He said he urgently needed to improve his English for work reasons and required six hours of training each week. He was even willing to pay me a considerable sum upfront to show his commitment to the classes.

This probably should have triggered alarm bells in my head. Looking back, it was clearly too good to be true, but all I could see were images of myself throwing handfuls of cash into the warm Reunionese air with glee.

Michel, who was only contactable by text messaging, gave me the address of his workplace and told me to come along at 9am sharp the next day to discuss his objectives. So the next morning, bright and early, I set off to find his office in Technopole. I hadn’t really paid attention when tapping in the address so when the GPS told me ‘you have reached your destination’, I was surprised to find that I was not outside an office building like he had described, but instead, before me, was Domenjod Prison.

Somewhat foolishly, it didn’t even cross my mind that this was a prank. I presumed I had misunderstood his directions or typed in the wrong address. It took me an hour of waiting and unanswered text messages to realize that Michel was either an inmate in Domenjod Prison or a bored kid.

I would like to think the former; that he is an inmate who, despite the mistakes of his past, is now looking to change his ways. And what better way to get ahead in life, than to learn English?


time to spare - du temps libre
to jump on the bandwagon - suivre le mouvement
a fair bit - pas mal de
to require - avoir besoin
willing - prêt

upfront - à l’avance
glee - joie
9am sharp - 9h pile
bright and early - de bonne heure
to set off - prendre la route

to reach - atteindre
instead - au lieu de
foolishly - bêtement
to cross the mind - traverser l’esprit
prank - farce

inmate - détenu
despite - malgré
to change one's ways - changer de voie
to get ahead in life - avancer dans la vie