First Ladies Biden, Macron Bond Over Love of Language and Education
First lady Jill Biden, who has broken with precedent by continuing to teach at a community college since moving into the White House, confided to a group of seventh graders this week that she was not always sure she would be able to handle both jobs.
Biden, who holds a doctoral degree, made the admission Thursday during a museum visit with her French counterpart Brigitte Macron, who was in Washington with President Emmanuel Macron for a state visit.
“Teaching is my passion, I teach English and I love it,” Biden said in response to a question from one of the school children at the Planet Word Museum, which is dedicated to language.
“I said to my husband: ‘I don’t want to give up teaching.’ And he said: ‘Oh I don’t know; do you think you can do both?’ I said, ‘I don’t know but I’m going to try.’ So, I [continue to] teach now at Northern Virginia Community College, I’m there two days a week and I still love it! Every day is an adventure, I just feel inspired to go to work every day.”
Asked by another of the school children whether her students treat her differently since her husband Joe Biden became president, the first lady explained that they now have to pass through a security check to make sure no one is carrying a weapon.
But “after a week or two, they don’t even remember I’m first lady. I’m their English teacher,” Biden said.
Macron, for her part, voiced a similar sentiment when one of the children asked her what it is like to be a first lady.
“We’re women, we had a life before [becoming] first lady, and we stay what we are,” she said, as Biden nodded in full agreement.
Macron confessed to being not entirely comfortable speaking in English but made a pitch for the value of poetry, which she described as “a universal language.” To make the point, she shared with the students a parable about two blind men begging for money.
“One holds up a piece of paper on which it is written ‘blind’ and no one gives him any money,” Macron said. “And the poetic one wrote: ‘The spring is arriving, and I will never see it,’ and everyone gives him money.”
Macron also took a student’s question about her wardrobe, jokingly describing her go-to designer Nicolas Ghesquière of Louis Vuitton as “the other man in my life.” She added that “he makes my job easier, otherwise I’m always in jeans and T-shirt.” Macron also shared with the audience that while she used to teach French, Latin and theater, she now teaches some adults looking for jobs in her country.
As for Biden, she shared with the students a recent writing assignment she had given her community college class, asking, “If a meteor was coming to the earth, what is the last song you want to hear and why?”
The first lady admitted to being unfamiliar with some of the children’s favorite tunes but lit up when one of the students mentioned “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston.
“We know that one,” Biden said.
As the visit wound down, Macron again apologized for her difficulty with English and read from a prepared note:
“Dear Jill: Thank you so much for planning such a visit, I’m really glad we’re able to share this moment together, because there’s a sense [of connection]; we both share a lifelong commitment to education, this really means a lot. We’re friends.”
She then extended her hand to Biden who took hold of the hand and responded, “We’re friends.”