What a Friday!

Dear parents, guardians, family, and friends,

The weekly update has arrived!

This past 3rd week in Saumur has been beautiful: we’ve had blue skies and warm, warm weather everyday (contrary to other sites—so I’ve heard—where it’s been raining).

From Monday to Thursday this past week we have been having our regular schedule of morning support groups (where we break out into small groups and ensure that students are having positive experiences in France), followed by three morning French classes, then lunch at the Foyer de Jeunesse (they’re doing a great job accommodating our large group and planning balanced meals), then an afternoon class, and ending our day with an afternoon activity (singing, theater, sports, or small groups depending on the day).

The last midweek post featured the afternoon sports activity from Wednesday, but for this big post I’d like to focus in on Friday since so much occurred that day (and also because there’s a big bundle of photos to accompany it!).

So, an overview to start that will be followed with details and photos:

  • L’Abbaye de Fontevraud (Friday morning)
  • The Alienor Aquitaine Retirement Home (Friday afternoon)
  • Le Boule de Fort: A regional French game (Friday evening)

Let’s begin!

L’Abbaye de Fontevraud

The Saumur site annually visits the Fontevraud Abbey (located in the Loire valley) which is famous for its size, beauty, architecture, and history. We picked up audio guides from the welcome desk and students began their visit. Inside the Fontevraud there were many attractions: a restaurant, a hotel, art installations, a crypt, a cloister, and gardens. The students really enjoyed Fontevraud and the pictures will be able to attest to that better than words!

First steps into Abbey
First steps into Abbey
Signs that had motion-activated audio descriptions
Signs that had motion-activated audio descriptions
The Abbey's gardens
The Abbey’s gardens
Students make a break for day
Students make a break for day from the crypt
In the crypt there were many art installations like this made of fluorescent string and lighting shaped into designs
In the crypt there were many art installations like this made of fluorescent string and lighting shaped into designs
The Abbey also had a crypt that students explored
The Abbey also had a crypt that students explored
Robin, Megan, Lauren, and Becca outside the Abbey
Robin, Megan, Lauren, and Becca outside the Abbey
One of Genet's writings
One of Genet’s writings
There was an exhibit about Jean Genet as a prisoner in the Abbey
There was an exhibit about Jean Genet as a prisoner in the Abbey
They had a series of art installations like this in Fontevraud
They had a series of art installations like this in Fontevraud
Alex and Joe
Alex and Joe
Rachel and Federica in the cloister
Rachel and Federica in the cloister
Isabel, Emily, and Julia together in the cloister
Isabel, Emily, and Julia together in the cloister
Casey and Casandre in the cloister
Casey and Casandre in the cloister
Sarah poses for the camera
Sarah poses for the camera
Casandre, Casey, Camille, Megan, and Jacob next to the alter
Casandre, Casey, Camille, Megan, and Jacob next to the alter
Camille and Lydia in the Abbey
Camille and Lydia in the Abbey
Megan in the Abbey
Megan in the Abbey
A good drawing by a student!
A good drawing by a student!
The Abbey had this installation where students could draw images and then have them projected onto the wall
The Abbey had this installation where students could draw images and then have them projected onto the wall
Lauren, Lindsay, and Ian kindly pose
Lauren, Lindsay, and Ian kindly pose
An overview of the interior of the Abbey
An overview of the interior of the Abbey

The Alienor Aquitaine Retirement Home

The Saumur site also annually visits the retirement home, which is located very near the Fontevraud Abbey. This activity is great because it gives students a way to give back to the community.

We spent the afternoon at the retirement home where we were very warmly greeted with an afternoon lunch before visiting with the residents. During the visit with the residents, students sang French songs (La Marseillaise and Aux Champs Elysees), took an informal quiz with the resident’s about French and USA history, and spoke with residents. The residents were very happy to welcome the students and they sang us songs in French as well.

On a personal note, it was very moving to see students with the residents—they did such a wonderful job sharing themselves and engaging the residents (they just blew me away with how much they took this experience into their own hands). After the group had left I had a moment while getting information for thank-you cards to speak with one resident who had been talking with several students during the visit and she told me that she was so happy to have had us. She told me that the students had told her about their upcoming visit to Normandy and that she had really appreciated being able to share her experiences about D-day.

The choir sings for the residents! I had a couple videos of the students singing, but I cannot upload the file type here alas.
The choir sings for the residents! I had a couple videos of the students singing, but I cannot upload the file type here alas.
This was the lady who shared her D-day experiences
This was the lady who shared her D-day experiences
Another lively gentleman who sang to our students to welcome them!
A gentleman who sang to our students to welcome them!
Isabel speaking with a gentleman. He was very lively and led a song for us.
Isabel speaking with a gentleman. He was very lively and led a song for us.
Alex and Lindsey speak with a resident. Just behind them you can see Lydia, Lauren, Ellen, Christina, and Megan speaking with another resident.
Alex and Lindsey speak with a resident. Just behind them you can see Lydia, Lauren, Ellen, Christina, and Megan speaking with another resident.
A group photo outside the home
A group photo outside the home

A Regional French game: Le Boule de Fort

Lastly Friday evening, we were invited by the mayor to play a regional Saumur French game called Boule de Fort. This was an optional activity, but we still had a very good turnout and enough time that everyone got to try out the game. The mayor (who I found out had traveled in the US and could speak English very well; refraining from doing so of course…) greeted all our students and also tried out the game with them!

To briefly (and very generally) explain the game so that the pictures make some sense, it involves two teams, one colored ball, and a set of metal balls. The goal is that each team wants to roll their set of metal balls as close as possible to the colored ball.

Le Boule de Fort hall/game area
Le Boule de Fort hall/game area
In this photo you can see the mayor on the far left playing with Mathew, Casidy, Hannah, and Robin
In this photo you can see the mayor on the far left playing with Mathew, Cassidy, Hannah, and Robin
Casey gives it go!
Casey gives it go!
Rachel gives it a go!
Rachel gives it a go!
Federica gives it shot!
Federica gives it shot!
Camille tries out the game
Camille tries out the game
Christina tries out the game
Christina tries out the game
Hannah did well!
Hannah did well!
The Boule de Fort animator helps Sarah while Jacob and Ian look on
The Boule de Fort animator helps Sarah while Jacob and Ian look on
Jacob gives it a go!
Jacob gives it a go!
Even Amy and I got wrassled into playing...
Even Amy and I got wrassled into trying out Boule de Fort!

Next week we have a regular day scheduled for Monday, but on Tuesday and Wednesday we will have a two-day excursion to Normandy. We’re scheduled to see (among other things of course!): the D-Day beaches, the War Memorial Museum in Caen, and Mont-St-Michel. On Thursday and Friday we have regular days scheduled and an upcoming event for the 14th of July (France’s national holiday).

My next post will be filled with pictures and descriptions of this visit to keep you up to date. This will be my second time visiting the beaches and memorials in Normandy and I can full-heartedly say the students are really in for an experience—they are going to see, learn, and grow so much from visiting these sites.

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