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)
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!
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.
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.
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.