Global Learning, International Exchanges

Dispatches from France

A group of Northwest School students and faculty members embarked on a two-week bi-annual trip to Angers, France, as part of our Global Learning Program. They are being hosted by families whose students go to our partner school, Lycée Emmanuel Mounier, are attending class, and working with their French peers on a joint project spearheaded by Northwest teacher, Francoise Canter, and her colleague at Lycée Emmanuel Mounier, Colette Schouppe. They will also find time to indulge in the pleasures of French cuisine and will be immersed in the richness of French culture and history. Read their stories on our website over the next two weeks.

April 4, 2017

We all spent the weekend with our hosts. Read on to learn about three experiences.

"After a long and unfamiliar, yet electrifying, week, I was a bit burned. We sat down for a delicious dinner of “Bouchèe à la Reine,” celebrating the end of the week, and adventures to come. After dinner we attempted to watch a french movie, but I began to fall asleep.

The next morning I slept in, Margo had gone to take an engineering test and was out of the house until four in the afternoon. I spent the morning in bed, reading and drawing as the sun crept in through the window. That night we met with the family of Kate and toured the factory of “Cointreau,” the famous alcohol brand from Angers. After we went bowling, had dinner and enjoyed each others company.

The next morning was just like the last, relaxing, simple, a good time to think. For lunch we ate “l’escargot,” I did not particularly enjoy these, but I think it is necessary for the full French experience (see picture). After lunch we went to a botanical garden/market called “Terra Botanica” the flowers were beautiful and in bloom, perhaps reflecting our linguistic growth over the trip. Upon our return home we ate a dinner of homemade crepes and went to sleep early in order to prepare for the upcoming week."

- Grace P.

"This weekend, my host family traveled to Chambord, one of the biggest castles in France! It was a two day trip, the first day was comprised of the journey there plus a long walk in the vast forests surrounding the castle. We stayed the night in a small B&B hotel nearby. The next day we toured the castle and were able to arrive just as it was opening, so for the first hour or so me and my host family could travel around pretty much alone. This castle was quite interesting as it was not as ornate as is commonly seen in castles of such size, instead it is a symbol of the Renaissance. The second most interesting thing was the number of fireplaces — there was at least one in every room bigger than a closet, in fact there are 365 different fireplaces throughout the castle, one for every day of the year (or so I have heard! Here is a photo of me and the kids in my host family. I don’t think it’s a great photo of us, but the castle looks cool."

- Zack

"The weekend it was a lot of fun spending time with are correspondents and their families. On Saturday, I went into town to shop. It is fun to shop with your correspondent because they have shops they like, and shops that you would not have noticed at first. After that Alice (my correspondent) and I went over to her friend's house. It was really cool to see what French teenagers do for the weekend!

On Sunday I slept in. After eating lunch with the family, we went for a bike ride. Alice, her mom and I went on an over two hour bike ride. In the middle we stoped to get drinks. It was nice to sit by the river and drink a refreshing soda. The bike ride was extremely beautiful. We rode through a path that was lined with trees, and through town. We biked to the meeting point of two rivers. On the bike ride we also saw many cute dogs!"

- Brigid

March 31, 2017

We arrived at school yesterday morning and spent the first part of the morning finalizing and printing the surveys for our projects. After rehearsing our collaborative theater project, we caught the bus into downtown Angers. We walked a short way to a large central square where we met up with Françoise and her sister. Right beside the Lafayette Galeries, we began a scevenger hunt put together by Françoise.

We divided into groups where we hzd several hours to explore the city and take pictures of the things on our list. The trick though was that we had to ask people on the street to take the pictures with us in them. It was a good way to practice our French and initiate conversations with random people. We explored the city and the stores, found snacks and sat in the sun in the square. It was so warm almost all of us ended up getting a bit burned (even though we wore sunscreen). On our explorations near the chateau my scavenger hunt group found a doggie in the yard of a fanous creperie. We spent a solid ten minutes there with the dog. He was even in our picture of the building! Once our group finished, we found a small hidden restaurant to eat a delicious lunch at. It was an amazing little find. After, we found a public garden near our meeting place and lay under a tree for about an hour. It was lots of fun. there are so many public squares and parks to relax in and there are flowers and grass everywhere.

Next we went to the Musee des Beaux-Arts d’Angers. It was amazing. Housed in a beautiful old refrectoire, we walked through rooms of art with consecutive time periods. They were amazing and some of the oil on canvas paintings were over twenty feet tall (!!!). Some of the tour was guided by Jeff and Françoise but mostly we were free to walk through as we pleased. All of the paintings and statues were beautiful but obviously we got slightly silly in our appreciation of the statues at the end of our visit.

After, we returned to the grassy park where some people played frisbee while others sat or lay in the sun or under the trees. We caught a bus back to school and went home with our host students. Shortly after arriving home, Mimi and I accompanied our host students (Marie and Margaux) to their modern jazz dance class. It was so much fun and very entertaining for us to watch them prepare their dances for the performance in June. In all it was an amazing day and we all have memories that will stay with us forever, sunburns and all.

- Kate

March 29, 2017

After a day of classes at Mounier, yesterday we went downtown to visit some of the most well known landmarks in Angers, and to eat lunch. We started the day by taking the bus downtown and across the river to Angers’ state of the art performing arts center called the Quai (meaning wharf in French as it is situated on the bank just opposite the Chateau).

One of the directors gave us a tour of the small blackbox theater, which, from a technical perspective, was fascinating. On each of the four walls it had rows of seating that could be pulled out of the wall to arrange it in any concievable format. From there we went to the “Grande Salle”, and incredible 900 seat auditortium. It had a ground level, a balcony, and a very upper level branded as “paradis” (heaven), which actually has the worst view in the house! Because the mission of the Quai is to incorporate and foster cooperation between all different performing art forms, this space had to accomadate all different kinds of performances, therefore, it, like the blackbox, was very versatile. For instance, the first three rows can be lowered to accomadate an orchestra, or be elevated to make the stage even bigger.

Once we had finished our tour, we spent some time hanging out in the sun on the grass by the river eating Kouign-amann waiting for the Quai’s rooftop terrace to open. At 11:30, we took the elevator up and looked out at the beautiful view of the river and the walls of the old city atop a cliff flanked to the right by the Chateau.

After some much needed rest, we walked back across the river and up a beautiful stairway that deposited us right at the doors of the cathedral. After lighting some candles and admiring the stained glass, we exited through a Mimi-sized door and foraged for lunch. Miraculously, all four groups made it out and back to the Chateau on time for our visit. Atop the ramparts we could admire the whole city under a bluebird sky.