Monday, June 27, 2011

La Randonée

It hardly seems possible, but we have already finished our second week and are starting the third. With time flying by so quickly, we'll be hosting our "Fête des familles" (host family party) before we know it. In order to be well prepared for the event, we've begun the planning early during our afternoon activities. Every afternoon, we choose to do sports, choir, or theater, and it is the work from these last two activities that will form the show that the students will put on for the families. During choir, we listen to and practice a variety of French songs, both early and modern, and even some songs broken into four parts. Though it took a little encouragement, our brave stagiaires, some of whom who have never had any training, have jumped right into the choir exercises.

On theater days, the students are first engaged in some sort of activity that requires them to open themselves up to their classmates and to themselves, sometimes nudging them outside of their comfort zones in order to be a little silly, even. For example, the students were asked to cross the stage of our amphitheater one at a time, each time in a different way.
It was quite rewarding to see that even our more timid students were able to come out of their shells a bit, and that all the students were very encouraging of each other.

For the remainder of the time, the students have been working in groups to create short skits that they will perform for their families. They have already worked out some great ideas--how to become French in seven weeks, a Christmas-Carol-type tale of an unhappy stagiaire who is visited by the ghosts of other students, and aliens who kidnap a stagiaire and learn about the French culture. They will continue to write and direct their skits during the upcoming weeks as we prepare for the Fête des familles.

Even with all the work we put the students through during the week, there was a large group that was willing to spend their Saturday afternoon with us during our first optional weekend activity, which was a randonné (hike) around the nearby town of Montsoreau. The trail began in the heart of the small town, worked its way along the Loire river, and climbed up over the hill that looks over the valley. The view was quite remarkable, with a patchwork of vineyards and wheat fields covering the area. Students ate a picnic that their host parents prepared for them on top of the hill, then as we continued on, we came across an old windmill, so we of course had to take the opportunity to get a nice group photo:
Since it was a fairly warm day, we took a couple more good breaks in order to rehydrate and relax in the shade. Students even had the opportunity to see the town's château, which offered a museum describing the region's history as well as an excellent view of the valley.

After a restful weekend, the students began their third week with us today, and they are now setting their sights on the upcoming excursion to Normandy. They are very excited, and I think it will be a very enriching experience as they see the intersection of American and French history. I can't wait to let you all know how it goes! Stay posted, and enjoy the new photos that I have posted on the photo website.

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