Saturday, June 11, 2016

Thursday was our first full day here in Brest. The students met at L’Aile Michelet, where we eat lunch (and where the teachers are staying). We then walked to L’Aile Octrois where we will have classes each day. The walk was about 30 minutes, so the students were introduced a fact of everyday French life – lots of walking. For the return, we took the tram which cut the time in half. For lunch every day, we will take the tram.

After lunch, the students returned to their host families. We waited for rides in a small park just around the corner. The process of getting to know one another was in full stride.
Friday morning brought rain, a frequent fact of life in Brest because of the proximity to the sea. Most everyone arrived more or less on time. However a few students had an adventurous morning negotiating connections between bus and tram…or lack thereof. Nonetheless, everyone arrived safely, eventually.

Students settled in to take the evaluation exam. This consisted of grammar, reading comprehension and oral comprehension. They will take it again at the end to determine growth.

The reward at the end was that everyone received their program cell phones. These are, for the most part, flip phones. So, they felt as if they had returned to the Middle Ages. And, NO, US parents cannot communicate with their kids via these phones.

Even though these phones are a generation or two removed from smart phones, these digital natives had them figured out almost before Cyntia could explain. I haven’t had one of these phones in about eight years, and I am still figuring out how to make a call or send a text!

It was then off to lunch and back again. We have an hour or more to eat, but within 25 or 30 minutes, tables were clear and backpacks were in hand. Amanda looked over at them and asked, “Où allez-vous?” (Where are you going?) We are going to have to teach them to take time over their meals, in the French fashion.

In the afternoon, we played a name game to get to know one another better. We then separated into our four groups. A couple of times a week in the afternoon, we will meet in support groups for team building and for sharing concerns and problems as well as joys and solutions. This first time was particularly fun for all.

On Monday, we will separate into three academic groups. In this way students interact with different of their peers at different times.

Everyone left about 3:30, our usual dismissal time, after about 20 minutes of chill time. Below, there are some photos of that and tram rides.

We teachers met with host parents on Friday evening. They expressed an interest in viewing this blog, so I will open it up to them as well. It will remain in English.

It has been suggested that I post at regular intervals so you don’t have to continually check for updates. (1,200 views for one post is quite a bit.) At this point, I am considering posting on Tuesdays and once over each weekend. If I must deviate from this, I will make a quick post noting that.

We have asked that host families permit a phone call home Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday evening this week. You can expect it between 2 and 5 pm your time (8-11pm here). If you need to leave an alternate phone number for your student to call, please let Loni know and she will pass that information to me. Remember, the call will be limited to five minutes. Their goal here is to speak French only.

Please be reassured. We have seen very few signs of homesickness thus far. One or two of the girls have expressed a bit of it, but they are staying strong. Don’t feel bad, but they seem to miss their pets the most!

-Team Brest 2016 - Nous sommes en France!
Waiting for the tram - Note, no rain!
On Board the Tram!

Passing through Place de la Liberte

Rue de Siam, our main street.

She needs "un collier en argent ou en or" we've decided

Photographing the photographer

Aspen hates photos, but she likes Monsieur

Wow! Goeff using his hands to express himself, what a surprise! 

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