by Cynthia ’18
Today I woke up to our last day of service. I was sad to leave the kids behind, as I had finally gotten to know and love them. I gave a few last piggy back rides and even received a few works of art before I left. This service experience is one I will truly remember.
After school, our French hosts took us out for a picnic where we had snacks, played Truth or Dare, Never have I ever, and just enjoyed being outside in the 60 degree weather. Then we headed to town to get some pizza, and we debated if “Texas Pizza” was really Texan. We finished our last night going bowling and Paul won both rounds.
Overall, it was a fantastic last day and I’m sad to be catching the plane tomorrow afternoon to return home. But in two weeks I will be seeing these new friends again, so it’s not all sad.
by Julia ’18
Waking up in a French household is like waking up in a movie filled with bread, nutella, kuegelof, various jams and jellies, and seeing the sun rise up from Alsace mountains… and more bread. That’s how my day begins. Then I go to my service site at the école maternelle Charles Kienzl.
This morning Cynthia, Ethan, and I helped the children with various games, puzzles, drawings and reading books. There is one student in the class, Léon, who is constantly full of energy. The highlight of my day is being able to calm Léon down for a few minutes before he is off again. After the morning service, we met Ben, Paul, and Tucker and our French hosts at the lycée to go to lunch. The lunch at Kastler offered a variety of cheeses, bread, and yogurt. After lunch before going back to our service sites, we played card games. Then it was time to go back to our écoles for the afternoon with the bigger kids. In the morning, we help with the three-year-olds and in the afternoon, we help with the four- and five-year-olds. The older classes are learning math and doing several activities involving numbers.
After the second half of the day ended I went back home with my correspondante, but not before going to her German class. Once back home we ate dinner, played piano, and sang in a mix of French and English. Afterwards, we had dinner and then it was time for bed.
This Wednesday instead of going to our service sites, we spent the day with our hosts attending classes at the lycée. It was very different from GS. First of all, most of the classes have about 30 students in them, and the first class I went to with my host, there were no extra seats so I joined Ben and his host in her history class and then to a French class. The history teacher asked us a few questions, but the classes seemed long since it was hard to understand what everyone was saying. After nice lunch with my host, I was able to go to her French class in the afternoon. Unlike GS, the students at the lycée often have classes from 8:00 a.m. in the morning until 6:00 p.m. in the evening.
Tomorrow we will be back at our “stages” for another day of service.
by Ethan Vegotsky ’18
Today was a good day. I woke up before my alarm, which was a good sign for the day ahead of me. My correspondente and I ate a small breakfast before leaving for school. On the bus I kept a short conversation with my correspondente and before I knew it the hour long bus ride came to an end. I met Tucker at the gate before school and was happy to see a fellow George School student. After talking with Tucker for a bit, it was time to head off to my service site.
Today I worked with younger children, and although they were very cute they cried a lot more than the other children, which made it a more difficult task. Even though taking care of the younger children was more difficult, the morning class went by pretty quick. Then we walked back to the lycée for lunch. As always, lunch is the highlight of my day, partly because I get to see my American friends, but also because I get a small break.
After lunch, I walked back to the service site and I was assigned to work with the older kids. The afternoon was good, as I had fun with the older kids at recess and in class. When I finished my day of service I walked back to the Lycée and attended French class with my host. In the class I struggled to understand what the teacher was saying, but I enjoyed the experience. After class, it was time to take the bus home. When we got back we ate dinner, which was quite delicious. After that I wrote my journals and laid on my bed thinking about how the trip is almost over, yet it has just begun. I also began to think about all of the snow that Newtown probably has right now when here it is sunny and pleasant.
All in all a great day in France!
by Ben D.
After a weekend of travel and learning how to operate a tractor (not as fun as it sounds when you don’t know which pedal is the clutch and which is the gas) it was time to return to service. I woke up early and took a quick shower followed by breakfast. My correspondante and I walked to the bus stop. At the bus stop I met several of the people I had started to get to know before I went to Paris. We discussed what I saw and didn’t see and caught up with what they did over the weekend. After riding to school I met up with Tucker and Paul and we made our way down to the école primaire to do our service. Today we laminated and cut out exercises for the teachers to use later and supervised some children as one of the teachers were sick.
Before it seemed any time had passed it was time for lunch. Back with my fellow students and their correspondantes, we discussed what we did yesterday (personally I thought learning to operate a tractor was the most interesting). After lunch we returned to our école primaire and finished our tasks for the afternoon. We returned to Lycée Kaster to meet up with our hosts and returned home. My correspondante and I went to a pool as she swims competitively (I still enjoyed the swim). Now I am off to bed as I have another day of service to complete tomorrow.
by Debbie DiMicco
Actually it was not in the park, but back in Alsace on a particularly lovely Sunday. On Sundays in Alsace, everything is closed (which is not the case in the rest of France, but Alsace is a bit “particular” in that way). It is a day off for most people, and, as the stepson of my host Céline explained to me, Sunday is a day when you do not look at your watch.
Nancy and I were invited to a noon meal at Virginie’s house (Virginie is one of the trip leaders, along with my host Céline Peronet who will be accompanying the group when they arrive at the end of March). It was a delightful reunion of former trip leaders, many of whom were hosted by Nancy or me on past trips. We met up with Alain Collange, a now retired but long-time leader of the trip, former GS French teacher and trip leader, Claudie Fischer, past trip leaders Christine Garaud and Benedicte Zirnheld. We caught up with Hélène Wicquart, who accompanied the exchange back in the 70’s when the group visited GS in August…
After a week of rain, wind, clouds and cold, it was finally sunny. We took advantage of the beau temps on Virginie’s patio basking in some much desired sunshine and meeting up with old friends and veterans of this storied exchange.
After this day of “repos” the students will return tomorrow to their “stages” for the remainder of the week.
by Nancy K.
C’est bien notre chance! The sun finally came out on the day we left Paris. We all slept a little later this morning, and then after breakfast, some of us took final walks in the jardin des Tuileries, some explored more the streets around the hotel. With suitcases in hand we left our hotel around 11:30 a.m. for the final subway ride to the Gare de l’Est. We grabbed lunch at the train station and then boarded our TGV train (train grande vitesse) that was to leave at 1:55 p.m., but the train never moved. Many of the students passed the time playing cards, and the great victory occurred when Cynthia was able to successfully shuffle the cards. We eventually learned that there was an electrical problem on the tracks that blocked not only our train, but all the trains leaving from and arriving to the station. After a delay of over an hour, we were finally on our way to Strasbourg, where we needed to change trains for Colmar. The delay caused us to miss the train we had planned to take, but fortunately there was another about ¾ an hour after our arrival at the Strasbourg station. We boarded the TER (train express régional) train where we were hard pressed to find seats since it was practically standing room only. We finally arrived in Colmar, got off the train and regrouped on the train platform from our widely dispersed seats on the train. We were met by our correspondents and went off to our respective French families.
All in all Paris was a wonderful experience despite the cloudy, damp weather.
Today was a big day for us as we were going to explore one of the biggest landmarks of Paris and France — the Eiffel Tower. But before we did that, we had to get ready. I woke up feeling well rested for a change (don’t know if i can say the same for my friends), and we all went down for a really good hotel breakfast.
We then were off to the Louvre! It was just about the biggest museum that I had ever seen and if you wanted to see everything that the Louvre had to offer, it would supposedly take one three months day and night to fully explore this wondrous museum. For a few hours, we all walked around together exploring, of course, the Mona Lisa (because what else would you do at the Louvre besides possibly the thousands of other exhibits). We explored Italian paintings, French paintings, some very old and very valuable table settings, and jewelry. We then spent one more half hour to look at these two wonderful open courtyards with some very interesting and strange sculptures. It was an amazing experience, and our day was not even half over!
We set off for some lunch and all of us found this small sandwich shop which combined with a small cafe. We all had a really good lunch with paninis and pasta. We then took the metro (subway) to a Main Street in Paris which ended with L’Arch de triumph (The Arch of Triumph). This monument houses the burial site of a soldier who represents all the soldiers who died during WWI.
Finally we were off for The Eiffel Tower! We got off the metro and were greeted with a wonderful view of The Eiffel Tower and we took a group photo. We walked down towards the Tower and stopped by a merry-go-round which had two tiers. Of course we wanted to ride this, and we did, which was awesome.
Then we walked right up to The Eiffel Tower. It was stunning and was especially elegant when we walked right under it! I was so glad to have seen this as I had learned a lot about this Tower through an 8th grade project, and I finally got to see it in person.
We went back to our hotel for some much needed rest, and we then went back out to have a wonderful dinner of cheeseburgers (very French) and chicken burgers which were much different from American burgers and were amazing! We ended our day with a wonderful view from the top of the Tour Montparnasse, which ended our day with an amazing view of all of Paris and, of course, The Eiffel Tower!
This morning Julia and I awoke around 7:30 and were downstairs at 8:30 for a breakfast of bread and jam, Nutella, and coffee. Then we rushed out of the hotel and down the street to see the Musée d’Orsay. I was simply blown away and instantly in love. I worked my way from the top floor (the Impressionists, my favorite) to the bottom to the central sculpture hall.
We were soon off to our next adventure: Notre Dame. Again, this was stunning; we all really loved the stained glass windows. It was fantastic.
We had lunch and then headed to the Grande Mosquée de Paris that allowed us to visit the interior. The geometrical tile designs and traditional horseshoe archways were very different from the traditional Paris architecture. There was a symmetrical garden with teal tiles that were instantly striking when you stepped through the front doors. After walking around and admiring the tranquil space, we then proceeded to the Tea room that is an adjunct of the mosque. There we rested our legs in the agreeable atmosphere of the tea room.
That night we had dinner and went to the Huchette Theater and saw the Ionesco play La Leçon. The show was strange but funny and we all enjoyed it. To finish the night we went to Place de la Concorde and rode the Grande Roue (giant ferris wheel), and could see the entire Parisian skyline which was breathtaking.
We are going to Paris. I still can’t believe it. These were my thoughts on Wednesday, March 8 as I woke up at my correspondent Léana’s house, gathering my thoughts after a quick breakfast of confiture (jam) with some slices of baguette, I was ready to go.
We took the 9:51 a.m. train from Colmar and set out on our two-hour long journey playing various card games (BS, Spoons, Crazy Eights), and Cynthia basically crushed everyone with her mad skills at grabbing all the cards first which resulted in Ethan getting his hand smacked repeatedly. After the card game we were finally there. We were in Paris.
We quickly left the train and headed to our hotel – Hotel Londres – where we promptly threw down all of our bags and headed to see the Pyramide by the Louvre and upon turning around there it was, in the distance, in its glory, the Eiffel Tower. It stood with striking authority against the sky and the other small buildings around it.
We then walked through the Jardin des Tuileries to get to our metro to go to Sacre Coeur in Montmartre. There we climbed the many steps to the church, walked through the impressive interior, then walked along quaint streets lined by many small shops selling souvenirs from small Eiffel Towers to chocolate. We even saw Notre Dame Cathedral in chocolate.
Cynthia and I tried macaroons, and they were delicious. Later that evening we rode a bateau mouche, that gives a tour of Paris from the Seine river. All in all, it was an amazing day.