Tag Archives: France

France: Our First Work Day

by Tucker Ballantyne ’18

Today was the first day of service.  I woke up and took the bus to Lycée Kastler where I met up with the other Americans. Nancy and Debbie guided us to where we would be working. Ethan, Julia, and Cynthia at Ecole Maternelle Charles Kienzl; and Paul, Ben, and I at Ecole Primaire Rebzumfpt.

At Rebzumfpt we met the institutrice we would be working with, she explained that we would be helping the little kids.  We began our day observing classes. We couldn’t help much the first day so we helped with some administrative work.  Ben, Paul, and I organized folders and made sure forms were in their proper place. It wasn’t interesting, but it was easy.  The highlight of the day was lunch at the Lycée. I don’t know what we ate, but it was good.

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France Trip 2017


The group arrived safely at Heathrow.



Paul and Roseline


Ben and Lea meet at the airport.


Our French hosts.


Tucker and Alizee

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Spring Service Learning Trips


This week forty-seven students, faculty, and staff will be departing on annual service learning trips. This year’s destinations and projects are:

France—March 2 to 18

Departure: Thursday, March 2, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.
Return: Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 9:25 p.m.

Started in 1957, this relationship represents the longest running student exchange program between an American and a French high school. George School students work as teachers’ assistants in a variety of educational settings and live with local host families. A trip to Paris is one of the highlights. Students also join their host families for local sightseeing. French students, in turn, visit George School several weeks later.

Mississippi—March 5 to 19

Departure: Sunday March 5, 2017 at 5:30 a.m.
Return: Sunday, March 19, 2017 at 2:25 p.m.

Students work with Habitat for Humanity, helping to build affordable houses alongside those who lack adequate shelter in northern Mississippi. The group also enjoys potluck dinners with current and future Habitat homeowners and other members of the community. Students build relationships with the community as they build homes. There are also opportunities to explore local sites of interest in northern Mississippi.

Nepal—March 5 to 20

Departure: Sunday, March 5, 2017 at 5:30 a.m.
Return: Monday, March 20, 2017 at 8:45 a.m.

George School students will assist the school community in laying the foundations for two new classrooms for Janapriya Primary School. The school is located near Dhampus, 200 km west of Kathmandu. Following the service learning work the students hike into the lower foothills of the great Annapurna massif, walking for four days through traditional Hindu villages to enjoy spectacular views of the mountains. The trails explore lush oak and rhododendron forests, and students camp in serene locations that showcase dramatic views of the Annapurna Range.

Nicaragua—March 3 to 18

Departure: Friday, March 3, 2017 at 6:00 a.m.
Return: Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 10:48 p.m.

Students work as teachers’ assistants in our sister school in Barrio Riguero, a working-class Managua neighborhood. Other service opportunities may include repairing and upgrading schools and health clinics in impoverished areas. Students stay with host families who speak very little or no English. Cultural excursions typically involve visits to artisan markets and historic sites, as well as the lakes and volcanoes for which Nicaragua is known for.

Washington, DC—March 5 to 17

Departure: Sunday, March 5, 2017 at 9:30 a.m.
Return: Friday, March 17, 2017 at 10:05 p.m.

Students volunteer at Martha’s Table, So Others Might Eat (SOME), DC Central Kitchen, and a local mission. Martha’s Table assists children and families with food, clothing, and education. SOME is an interfaith, community-based organization that exists to help the poor and homeless with food, clothing, and health care. DC Central Kitchen recycles food, provides culinary career training for unemployed adults, and serves healthy school meals. Using Hostelling International as home base, students will have the opportunity to visit museums and explore our nation’s capital.

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Bon Voyage!

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The students and faculty who are participating in the France service trip departed campus yesterday afternoon! Check back for photos and news from their trip.

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France March 25: We Made It Back!

Our experience was very positive.  We all got to really understand and live French culture.  Our students did an great job on their service sites, receiving positive evaluations.  Looking back to our trip we can say that it was very enriching and we all made friendships we will always have. A la prochaine France!

Thanks for reading, Ileabeth and Debbie

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France March 25: A Normal Recess at Day Care

Panting. Out of breath.  Legs aching, in pain.  I don’t know how much longer I could keep this up.  These were my thoughts as I turned around and saw a sea of little faces running towards me.  I was finally trapped in a corner and my nervousness resembled that of a startled or frightened dog.  In a final attempt to escape, I decided to run straight through the middle.  Two brave boys grabbed my legs. Agustin and Tom slowed me down dragging around my feet. The others were able to easily catch me and I was defeated.  The mass had finally gotten to me.  What I don’t understand is how I ended up that position.  At first, I was simply playing soccer with one of the 5-year-old students.  What began as a small game of kicking a ball around, became a game of me playing keep away against 40+ children.  Then, it simply became a game of let’s see if we can catch the tall American.  I sure did get a good workout though.

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France March 25: Visiting Lycee Kastler

Kastler was pretty cool, for a school at least.  The school was really large for a public school.  It had its own little campus.  The day started in a philosophy class. I didn’t understand much, but from what I did get, the class was interesting.  Almost like TOK at GS, the class was highlighting and interpreting different ideas and scenarios.  Math class was about as basic as it could be, but a lot of students were at the board working out problems.  The most interesting class was history.  For a class I usually don’t particularly enjoy, I was really interested despite the language barrier! The teacher was great and engaging.  Overall, it was cool to see the other ways the French students learned and how the teachers taught.

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France March 17: From Julia

I have always dreamt of going to Paris, of the shopping, the food, and the landmarks. However, actually being there was completely different than the Paris I had always imagined. Rather than old ladies carrying purse dogs and Chanel bags, the streets were filled with people of many cultures speaking different languages.

Our first day in Paris, we explored the Jardin de Tuileries; saw the pyramid du Louvre, and took a night time boat ride down the Seine. For dinner, we were separated from the adults-it was at this time that our French skills were truly put to the test. We were required to order, ask questions, and pay for our meal in French. However, this was not always the case; one of the more frustrating aspects of the trip was that many people, hearing us speaking amongst ourselves in English, would speak English to us to practice their own foreign language skills.

One of the highlights of the trip for me was visiting the Louvre. Not only did it give me material for my IB journal, it gave me the chance to see a close friend who lives in Paris. Though short, our trip to Paris gave us many opportunities to experience French culture firsthand, and I hope I will be able to visit the city again one day.

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France March 17: From Lily

For me, Paris was the best part of the trip. The sightseeing was amazing; the night time boat ride and then seeing all the lights of Paris from the Eiffel tower was absolutely breathtaking. Going to Montmartre was also perfect because one of my favorite photographers André Kertesz, got his start in this area of Paris. This part of the trip, was good for the group as a whole because we got to visit and experience the most beautiful city in the world together. We bonded a lot, especially over dinner the first night. The shopping and exploring were also integral parts of this trip. It’s amazing how many memories could be made in such a short span of time. I will always carry this experience and its memories with me forever.

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France March 17: Notes from Kayla

I want to share some of the highlights of the first five days here in France. When I first arrived at the school, I wasn’t sure whether to kiss the French on both cheeks as is custom, and so we awkwardly danced until we finally settled on a handshake. The next highlight was that their school bell was actually “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO. Then after lunch in the cafeteria, they drink only water.

Skipping to Monday, my first day of service, I struggled a little bit with understanding the students, but things got better. Then at lunch, I dropped a glass in the cafeteria and as if I didn’t already stand out as a new face who spoke English and was loud. Now I was the new face who dropped a glass in the cafeteria.

After school, I took notice of the scheduled time for a snack everyday at home. Dinner is then served later in the evening. While at dinner, conversation was a mix of English and French as we tried to understand one another and they commented on how weird it was to see me eating sausage and bread for breakfast that morning.

Tuesday at service, I dropped a stack of plastic cups on the floor and then later, I got locked in the bathroom and had to leave through the window. That was interesting! Finally at the end of my work, a small child, with whom I had spoken when he was put in “time out” in the room in which I was working, came and gave me a “bisous” which is a small kiss.

The last highlight was that the school buses for the students were in fact coach buses and I rode in comfort to and from school as opposed to the cheese buses in America.

Now we are on our way to Paris!

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