Thursday, July 14, 2016

Last week in Brest

The closer we get to the end of our time here, the faster it seems to go. It is hard to believe we accomplish as much in a day as we do.

The week started Sunday night with the final game of the Euro 2016 football (soccer) championships. (Actually, the French count Monday as the first day of the week and Sunday as the last. So last week actually ended with the game.) France had defeated dreaded rival Germany to get to the final game. But the final was against a very feisty team from Portugal.
Many of the students had gotten caught up in the football fever along with their families. So, we teachers decided to sponsor a game-watching party in the building where we teach classes (Octrois). There’s a great HD wide-screen TV there and cable access. Only about ten students and six students attended, but everyone enjoyed the match – except for the outcome.

France outplayed Portugal in the first half, taking ten shots on goal, but didn’t score. Portugal came back in the second half, but it was 0-0 at the end of regulation play. They played two overtimes, and Portugal scored on a sloppy shot with about 90 seconds left. All of our face painting and wearing of the colors (blue, white and red) wasn’t quite enough to get the Blues to victory. We all got home late.

We teachers had predicted a late night, so we didn’t start until 10 am on Monday. The students re-took the test they had taken at the beginning so we can chart improvement. They finished early, so we let them go to lunch early. Some went to the cafeteria, others went out on their own.

Last week, several of us went to this little Libyan restaurant for lunch with Sammy to celebrate the end of his Ramadan fast. We all ate kebobs and were thrilled. Real mid-eastern kebobs have nothing to do with meat and veggies on a stick. That exists, but it is called something else. This is shaved meat with lettuce, tomato and a sauce in a grilled bread. The sauces are custom made (unless you choose ketchup) and are served with frites and a drink for just €5, which is about $6. It’s a feast. Last Saturday Aspen and I went there…not planned, not together. She suggested we might have a kebob problem. She might be right. We are not alone. For more and more of the students, free-choice lunch means kebobs!

The rest of Monday was rehearsal for Tuesday’s spectacle, the Fête des Familles. This is the big show the students put on for the host families. Planned events were several sketches written by the students, solo singing performances, a couple musical performances as well as dance. The kids had set the bar pretty high for themselves. By the end of the afternoon, they were confident.

Tuesday was dress rehearsal day. We were actually on the stage in the Salle Saint Louis, part of the cathedral complex. I think they ran the entire show four or five times with lunch in the middle. We released about 4pm, with everyone to return by 6:15. The performance was to begin at 7 pm.

We held the curtain for about 20 minutes because traffic in Brest was impossible and many people were late. But we began with Jamie singing the Marseillaise and didn’t look back. I’m attaching the program. The internet at the teachers’ residence isn’t fast so I don’t think I will be able to upload videos. I will when we return to the US. But I have many photos.
Wednesday, we got together at 10am. Several students stayed with their families. One of the girls expressed to me that it was odd to have accomplished everything – classes, exams and the spectacle – and to have no goal to be working toward.

What we did was attend Brest 2016, which is a maritime festival that takes place every four years here. There are over 1,500 sailing vessels from 10’ to 125’ in the harbor of Brest. The Hermonie, a replica of the ship that brought General Lafayette to the American colonies to help with the revolt against England in 1776, is here. There are ships from France, Russia, Holland, England, Portugal, Tahiti, and Africa. The festival encompasses the entire port and naval base, which is probably about two miles of waterfront.

At such a festival, there is no way to keep a group of 20+ together. So we let the students go, following the rule of three, to visit the festival as they would. We teachers stayed together, but none of the kids seemed to want to hang with us. We all did the same thing anyway – we walked a ton, looked at amazing ships, listened to exquisite regional music, and ate really good food. I saw a couple of groups, but the area is so vast, we just didn’t bump into one another much.

We regrouped at 3pm. By then, everyone was pretty tired. The students headed home or to other activities. Anna, Audrey and I went off to do senior portraits high and low in Brest.
I think I have done sessions with about seven students. The weather and the schedule haven’t cooperated for more. I am going to try to do some “portrait” type photos in Paris for those who haven’t been able to get with me. But there isn’t time for portrait sessions. Students will be provided with an online link for their portraits.

Thursday, July 14 is a holiday here. So, students are with their families. We won’t see them until Friday morning early as we meet the bus that takes us away from Brest. I have no idea what internet access will be like at the auberge in Paris. So, this may be my last post until we return home.

Even if I can’t post in Paris, I will be making lots of photos and writing about our experiences. I’ll post all of that when we return home. So, when your child is safe at home with you, you should still check the blog. When you ask, “What did you do in Paris?” and the answer is, “All kinds of stuff,” you can go to the blog for specifics.

It isn’t that they don’t want to share their experiences with you. It’s that they are going to go into sensory overload in Paris. Everything they have studied about Paris will come alive before their eyes. Abstract ideas will become real experiences. It will take a while before they have words to express what they have done, seen and felt. Be patient with them.

(pictures coming with internet availability)

Just after posting, I learned about the events in Nice. Please be assured that all of our students are safe. We are on the diagonally opposite side of the country. I personally attended the fireworks at the port and can attest that there were no issues here. We will proceed to Paris as planned. Security there has been at a very high level for nearly a year. We will be quite safe. If you have any concerns, please contact Loni.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again so very much for keeping us up date!! Chris E