A week full of a normal schedule seems to be doing great things for our "stagiaires." They are much less tired (though maybe a little during the 9 am support group), they are eating well, and most exciting of all, they are already making some big improvements in their speaking and comprehension abilities. Some students came into the program already having some advanced skills, and are now filling in the gaps, and some students were very quiet the first few days, but are now starting to open up to us, their peers, and their host families. I have no doubt that we will be seeing some impressive transformations by the end of the program.
Yesterday, we met with the host families to discuss any of their concerns, and we were pleased to hear that they love their students. They are becoming well integrated into the families, participating in activities, conversing with the adults and in many families the children as well, and even keeping up with their household chores (keeping their rooms clean, setting the table for dinner, etc.). The host families enjoy helping the students with their homework, whether it's reading the textbooks, doing a grammar assignment, or discussing cultural differences. Overall, they are very impressed by the students, by their thirst for knowledge and their willingness to try new things. We are pleased to have such an outstanding group of host families, who have already shown a great depth of kindness as well as patience as they help our stagiaires navigate through this journey.
While this week has been somewhat "normal" in terms of the schedule, it is by no means a quiet one. Tuesday night we saw Saumur and indeed all of France celebrate the national holiday called the "Fête de la Musique". This national music festival, celebrated every summer solstice for the last 29 years, invites musicians to cover nearly every street corner and fill the city with music. It seemed as though every Saumurois was downtown for the event, and as the other profs and I took a moment to enjoy the festivities, we spotted some stagiaires and their families along the way.
The types of music varied, from rock, to classical, even some American country! It was quite an amazing sight to see, and the students who were able to go very much enjoyed it as well.
More photos from the music festival will be posted to the photo website soon, and there are still many exciting events to come, so stay posted!