This newsletter will be updated and distributed to our membership as an e-mail on a semi-annual basis. If you would like to become a member or be added to our mailing list (or deleted), please send an e-mail to Pietie@valley.net.
Current articles include:
– Pietie Birnie – Comings and Goings
– Brian Walsh – Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the twinning of Hanover/Joigny
– Guy Mathiaut – A letter from Joigny
– Jean Vigneault– A Collage of Unforgettable Memories
– Eileen Clauson– Living in Paris
– Ingrid Curtis – A parent’s perspective
– Lizann Peyton – A semester in Joigny (with middle/high school age children)
– Steve Grant – A month in Joigny (with pre/elementary school age children)
– Jesse Beech – Impressions of a Dartmouth student
– Hanover Selectboard – Joigny Resolution
– Robert Riessen – Report from our Treasurer
Pietie Birnie: Comings and Goings
Special Trips in 2004/2005 In addition to our regular student exchange trips, we are planning the following:
– In 2004, a trip to Joigny for a girls soccer team (middle school age). Games and participation in a tournament are in the offing. Bob Riessen is organizing this event. – In 2005, a garden tour exchange wherein a group of adults will travel to Joigny. Eileen Clauson is heading up this trip (with possibly Henry Homeyer joining our group). The French will also send a group to visit our gardens.
Travel between the Upper Valley and France has been brisk during the 18 months since our last newsletter! Alban Senlis spent 4 weeks during June and July of 2002 in the Upper Valley, dividing his time between Will Kinlaw’s household (Etna) and Alex Morse’s household (Hanover). Alban, who lives in Paris, had hosted Will during Will’s semester abroad in his junior year at Tufts. Concurrently, Edward Courtat, from Joigny, lived with Pete Vieira’s family in Etna and then with Jules Earley’s family in Norwich and Thetford, playing as much basketball and golf as possible. Jules hopes to spend three weeks in Joigny in March of 2004.
Also in the summer of 2002, Jesse Beach (Dartmouth ’04) made Joigny his homebase for five weeks, traveling to other places in France. His article about his trip appears below. Jesse contributed enormously to both the 2002 and 2003 visits of the students from Joigny – conducting a wonderful swing-dance session; creating and running an elaborate scavenger hunt in Hanover, working in a lot of fun history and trivia about the town and rewarding the participants with goodies from various shops on the itinerary; and leading a tour of town and campus. In the fall of 2002, the Peyton-Clark family of Norwich became Joviniens for four months. Peter reported on their adventures via several delightful articles which were printed in the Valley News over the course of their stay. More tales and reflections appear in Lizann’s article, which follows.
Just after New Year’s 2003, Eileen Clauson headed to Paris, where she lived for five months (see Eileen’s article below). April brought the visit of Guillemette Grège and Maryse Boisseau, who were graciously hosted by Elaine and Stephen Ball of Etna. The two women were familiar with the region, having visited together several years before and having chaperoned a previous student trip.
April also brought the return of Julien Millot, who participated in the student exchange in both 2000 and 2001. Julien’s technical program at Troyes in Service and Communication Networking required him to do a three-month internship outside of France. Ted Jastrzembski, CEO of Tally Systems in Lebanon, offered a position to Julien and put together a great program which exposed him to a variety of operations within the company. Julien enthused about the substance and opportunity for independent work it provided, so different from the courier and coffee-boy role he had experienced in “stages” in France and Washington. He is eager to come back to the States to continue his computer studies. Ted, who had never before taken on a foreign internee, wrote shortly after Julien’s departure, “We are already missing Julien. I must say the Julien Millot internship here at Tally was an unqualified success. Everyone was struck with his solid work ethic, maturity, and his confidence . . . . . he took great pride in his accomplishments on our behalf. I am also happy that after a little prodding, my staff supported this effort, and they are richer for the experience.” During Julien’s 11-week stay, he was warmly welcomed into the homes of five families who saw to his every comfort: the Campbell-Lemays of Hanover; the Hershenson-Scotts of Norwich, the Pridgens of Etna, the Clark-Peysons of Norwich, and the Grant-Websters of Hanover. Our hats are off to Ted and his staff at Tally and to all the host families for making Julien’s internship and home-life so rewarding.
In mid-April, a delegation of seven from the Hanover area traveled to Joigny to celebrate the sister cities’ 10th anniversary: Kate and Libby Chamberlin; Brian Walsh (see article below) and Linda Patch; Rainie and Larry Kelly; and Eileen Clauson. Kate wrote a lovely piece about the trip, which appeared in the summer issue of the Norwich Times. Rainie presented a gift to Joigny from the H-J Exchange Committee: a watercolor scene of Main Street, Hanover, charmingly depicted by Lebanon artist Larry Howard – the painting was hung immediately in Jean-Luc Allemand’s office in the Mairie.
In May, Edith Kessler spent six weeks in New Hampshire, attending Hanover High until spring term ended. She lived first in Hanover with the Currie family, having hosted Will and Terre Currie during the 5th grade “Hogwarts” soccer team trip to Joigny two years earlier. Edith then moved to Lebanon, where she stayed with the Schuster family. Allison Schuster had lived with Edith’s family in Joigny for three months the previous fall. Edith’s parents accompanied her on the trip over and stayed for two weeks with Sally Shipton and Jim Nourse of Norwich. Megan Ames of Norwich, scheduled to take part in the (canceled) spring Footnotes trip to Joigny and determined to go to France, did an exchange with Auréline Vincent: Megan hosted Auréline for much of June and then spent August with the Vincent family in Joigny and the Ardeche. Ali Davis and family (Norwich) hosted Olivier Furon for two weeks in July; Ali went to France in August and accompanied the Furons on their vacation in Normandy.
In the summer, American students visited Joigny for 2 weeks, followed immediately by a return visit of students from Joigny. The American students were: Alex Buckey, Gregor Burriss, Joanna Edwards, Estefi Fadul, Travis Fryer, Jon Olmstead, Laura Polidor, Iain Prendergast, Niall Prendergast, Erena Streltsov, Sam Yarborough. The chaperones were Eileen Clauson, and Laura Clauson.
In October, Isobel and David Cochran (Hanover) stayed in an apartment in the old part of Joigny and spent two weeks exploring the area. They were given a warm welcome by their landlords, Michèle and Jean-Pierre Barreau, and by Marie-Claude and Guy Mathiaut. Isobel, a watercolorist, found the old buildings, the reflections cast by the town into the river, and especially the flowers, enchanting. She made many sketches and took lots of photos and plans to do some paintings of Burgundy.
There was a war on; Was it safe to travel? American and France were on opposite sides of the politics on Iraq: How would we be received? It was going to be April in Paris; But historically Parisians had a reputation for snubbing English speaking Americans; How would they treat us in the current hostile political climate. And when we came right down to it, it was the tenth anniversary of Hanover and Joigny’s twinning: a celebration which we had been looking forward to for nearly two years. So off to France Linda, my wife, and I flew, as the American army and marines moved on Baghdad. Immediately, it was clear that our fears were unfounded.
Our first two days were in Paris. We met many friendly people who emphasized that “they were not anti-American”. (I guess that they could tell that we were not French). Soon we traveled on to Joigny, where Jean-Luc Allemand and Martine welcomed us with open arms, warm hospitality and a wonderful dinner. We ended the evening in gales of laughter as I practiced reading a Resolution celebrating the tenth anniversary of our twinning with my 40 year old un-used high school French. It was a perfect example of the old theater maxim leave them laughing. (My speaking did however violate the rule “leave them wanting more”). Saturday was devoted to a tour of this wonderful 1000 year old medieval town and a formal celebration of our twinning in “Hotel de Ville”. The Town of Hanover’s official Resolution was presented in my now highly polished French. And smiles and thankyous replaced the laughter of the prior evening.
After more touring there was a wonderful opening for a show of Kate Chamberlin’s paintings and my watercolors at Espace de Jean de Joigny: a most lovely municipal gallery. There was wine and more laughter and a chance to discuss world politics with a reporter for the local newspaper. Somehow I managed to convey the thought, again in my increasingly fluent French (did I say that there was wine at the reception?) that what counted for France and Iraq and America was not how we got to the conflict which now raged. Rather the question for the world was could nations line up and pull together in rebuilding Iraq: And move to a safer and more peaceful world. Thankfully, the reporter with whom I talked had a good ear and managed to convey my thoughts in the following Monday’s paper.
After a formal dinner of celebration on Saturday night, on Sunday morning we were hosted to a tour of the wine region of Chablis and the Basilique Ste-Madeline in Vezelay: an important stop on the pilgrim routes dating back to the 12th century. Followed by a family diner and much more laughter with Jean-Luc, Martine and their children we fell into bed exhausted on Sunday night. We followed our time in Joigny with a week of spring in Paris. Every one treated us wonderfully. I felt much more welcomed to Paris and France then I had as a student 35 years ago in the early days of another war in which America and France saw the world from different angles. And as we left France, after the liberation of Baghdad and Easter Mass in Notre Dame, I had a feeling that the world may have changed a little over the past thirty five years. Our governments still get into strongly stated opposing postures. But we were received as people not as foreigners. Perhaps we are all becoming more citizens of the world and less people of own individual nations.
Guy Mathiaut: A letter from Joigny
I am not quite sure that today you are welcome in France but I am pretty sure that you are welcome in Joigny. Days before your arrival I have been interviewed by the local medias about the international political developments. Naturally, as the President of the French-American Committee I could not express my personal feelings. Nevertheless each time I expressed my deep sadness about the deterioration of the American/French relationship leading our exchanges to troubles. I also mentioned that to me it is a complete diplomatic failure of the French and American diplomacy. Like we did after the 11th of September we will continue and improve our warm and fruitful exchanges. Tomorrow we have organized a trip to our vineyards (French specialty where we are still good). After a nice wine tasting in the cellar of Chablis we will be visiting the Vezelay Basilic and surroundings. I hope that you will remember your stay in Joigny in 2003 as a wonderful one.
God bless America.
President Of Joigny/Hanover Exchange Program (In France)
During a two week stay in Joigny from 30 June to 13 July 2002, Meredith Bacon, Caitlyn Murphy, Sean Harper, Kevin Clarkson, Aurora Curtis-Hill along with their chaperones, Jean Vigneault and Barbara Mitchell were warmly welcomed by the families of Alexis Carre, Vincent Millot, Pierre Moulinet-Loury, Marine Jully, Emmanuelle Unterhalt, Aurane Bazin, Magalie De Jesus and Dr. and Mrs. Nahmias.
Each day was well choreographed and allowed us to have an enormous array of experiences. We were able to visit Joigny and Auxerre with knowledgeable guides, to spend two days in Paris, to explore the Fabuloserie in Dicy, to see first hand the construction of a medieval castle in Guedelon, to celebrate the work of Marcel Aymé during “La Nuit Maillotine”, to taste the local products while meeting various people of Joigny, to marvel at the glory of Vaux le Vicomte, Fontainebleau and Vezelay, to leisurely meander down the small streets of Noyers-Sur-Serein, to enter into the Caves of Bailly, to stroll the streets of Sens and to spend many wonderful evenings with our new found friends and families of Joigny.
How could we have possibly dreamed of such a wonderful experience? How could we have possibly thought of seeing so many aspects of French culture during this time? How could we have possibly imagined the dear friendships which we would make? We could not, but the following passage of one student’s perception on route to Joigny best describes the enthusiasm and anticipation felt by all and the realization that something magical was happening which we would cherish forever.
“The memory of France that remains the most prominent in my memory does not include museums or tourist attractions. We had not even reached our destination of Joigny yet. The large white van carrying seven extremely over-tired yet eager Americans drove through town after town. Between the towns was endless countryside. Coming from the rolling mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont, wilderness is not a stranger to me. However this countryside was like nothing I had ever seen before. There were not as many mountains, but large hills covering broad expanses. I tried to keep my eyes from closing as I didn’t want to miss a sight. I was rewarded for this when I looked out the window and saw an enormous field of sunflowers. I had never seen so many before. To my surprise another field appeared. Along the two hour van ride I saw countless fields, yet each energized me in a way that I can not explain. On one stretch of land, I looked to the left and saw bales of hay in a field. They appeared golden in the mid-morning sun. They lay in the field and an overwhelming sense of peace came over me. I wanted to stare in awe of their beauty forever, but we passed them as quickly as they came.”
This description offers foreshadowing to not only the plethora of memories each American participant has from this stay but also a yearning to stop time in order to savor a little longer the tastes of France, to view a little longer the beautiful sites and to spend a little longer time with our new found friends. Fortunately, the recollections of special moments, touching encounters, unexpected opportunities and long-lasting indelible images help to not only foster cultural understanding and appreciation but emphasize the importance of global awareness through second language learning and the important role of the Hanover-Joigny Jumelage.
In order to collectively reflect the power and long-term positive effects on those who participated in the exchange each participant has been able to contribute to the following collage of memories articulated below. Here are but a few memories capable of being expressed by various participants:
– Most Enjoyable Moment: “Seeing all of the magnificent things in Paris about which I have learned for years. I also enjoyed being able to express myself so well in a different language. I liked actually feeling as if I had succeeded.” “It was an absolute delight to savor so many delicious meals during my stay. My most enjoyable experiences were those spent with wonderful friends around the table and enjoying the conversation and exchange of ideas.” “Spending time with everyone in Paris. I had visited Paris before, but never with this many of my friends. Whether it was on the streets shopping or viewing the city from the top of Montmartre, I enjoyed the experience because I was among great people.”
– Most Surprising Moment: “Realizing that I was able to be understood in French”. “Realizing that, like English, people spoke at many different speeds and not just the stereotypical fast paced style.”
– Most Frightening Moment: “Being on the Champs-Elysées and hearing fighter jets flying over us. We all were slightly worried. We came here because it was safe and without terrorist threats. We were greatly relieved upon learning that they were just practicing their routine for the 14th of July celebration.”
– Most Enlightening Moment: “The Louvre was amazing. I thought it was most enlightening because for the past three years in French class, we have studied French artists. It was fascinating to see the real versions of these paintings that we had come to know and love. Also, some of those paintings were HUGE!”
– Most Unforgettable Moment: “Vaux-Le-Vicomte was gorgeous! I will always remember this beauty and also riding around on a golf cart through the amazing gardens. It was unforgettable, and one of the most fun on the trip.”
– Most Touching Moment: “The last night when everyone was brought together and there was closure. It was a very emotional time. Especially to have formed bonds with so many people. Without knowledge of the language, these relationships would have been impossible.” “Perhaps the most touching moment for me came the evening prior to our departure. Each individual expressed sincere gratitude to all of host families and the Hanover-Joigny Exchange Committee for their enormous commitment and generosity. The overwhelming feelings of love, respect, friendship and joy from the experience expressed by all were mixed with sadness of the thought of saying goodbye. The evening touched the hearts of all.”
– Saddest Moment: “Leaving, and although I was ready, it was sad how quickly the time went by and the bonds you form with individuals. I still keep in touch with some of the students, which is really nice.” “Having to leave all the beauty that I had just witnessed, knowing that I had to return to a summer job far away from France and its rich culture.” “The saddest moment for me came in the parking lot prior to boarding the bus. I had so many to thank, so many to whom I personally wished to express my appreciation. Yet, the plane would not wait for us if we were late. To all of those with whom I could not talk personally prior to our departure, I wish you well and sincerely thank you for your inimitable hospitality.” Approximately one year after our stay in Joigny, we are all still feeling the positive impact of sharing this experience with the people of Joigny and appreciate sincerely the impressionable mark it has had on our perceptions and view of the world. An image not in black and white, but in various colors, shapes, forms and sizes like those of a collage. Individual pieces which when gently placed together form a collective image of meaningful depth and celebrate the beauty of diversity. May all realize the power of the “jumelage”. Peace to all!
Living in Paris is the astounding result of participating in the Joigny Exchange. Motherly responsibilities over, I was free to fulfill a long held desire to live in the “City of Light”, a desire that began 15 years ago when I was confronted with a son doing poorly in 8th grade French. Resurrecting my two years of high school French, I began to help him. My son never did learn French, but I began attending French classes at Hanover High. It was there that I met Don Watson, who asked me if I would like to help him start an exchange program with Joigny. Twelve years later, with the hope to better communicate with my new Joigny friends, I’m living in Paris from January to June in an apartment off Boulevard Saint-Germain, a ten-minute walk to Notre-Dame Cathedral and five minutes from the Luxembourg Gardens.
I have come to appreciate Hemingway’s thought that a young man lucky enough to live for a time in Paris would have it his whole life, wherever he went, because Paris was a movable feast. It has been a feast for this older woman as well. When I’m not attending French classes at Alliance Française, I am somehow involved with people, music, food, or gardens.
French friends from Joigny have come to Paris and shared with me their favorite cafés and restaurants. One even invited me to travel to Ireland to visit her daughter, now living in Dublin, who had once stayed with my family. Two of my favorite new friends are 80-year-old ladies. Madame Leygnac, whom I lived with in January until I found an apartment, had amazing stories to tell of the Résistance. Once, her whole family was lined up to be shot, until at the last moment her father could prove he wasn’t affiliated with the military building next door to their house. Claudine, her cousin, agreed to come to my apartment for one hour of conversation each week and usually stayed for three, sharing her experiences of life and men’s follies.
I am enjoying a feast of music here, music that is enhanced by the setting in which it is performed-a quartet in Sainte-Chapelle, a pianist playing Chopin in one of the oldest churches, St-Julien-le-Pauvre, a guitarist playing in the childhood home of Mme de Sévigné. I even tried Gregorian Chant, hoping that the lovely St-Sulpice Church with Delacroix murals might help me to appreciate it. It didn’t.
Every feast includes food, which the French take very seriously. Madame Leygnac slapped my wrist when I cut the Camembert with the wrong knife and in the wrong direction. My most memorable meal was one I made myself to celebrate moving into my apartment. I bought oysters, shucked by a vendor just steps from my door, mussels, a still warm baguette from the boulangerie, a fruit tart from the patisserie and an ice cold bottle of Muscadet.
Many wonderful meals have been followed by walks in one of the lovely gardens of Paris. My favorite is the Luxembourg Gardens, laid out in 1615 by Marie de Medici. Since my daily walk to school takes me through the Luxembourg, I’ve had the joy of watching the scene change from winter, when the center fountain resolutely continued to bubble over a cascade of ice and pansies peaked out from an unusual dusting of snow, through spring when gardeners in green jumpsuits meticulously set out fresh pansies, along with primroses and myositis.
As my stay comes to a close, I am thankful for the long and warm relationship between Hanover and Joigny, one that propelled me to live in marvelous Paris.
I want to thank you for the work you’ve done to make the Joigny trip possible. This was not simply a wonderful trip for Aurora; it helped her take a big step on the way to feeling competent and able to step into another culture with grace. The families were “formidable”. She says that she didn’t want to leave. This kind of experience seems perfectly designed for someone like Aurora. To be welcome into a family is to be immersed in the culture; it’s much better than being a tourist. And she says that now she has ideas of where she’d like to go for her next trip to France and how great it feels to have two families who will welcome her. Probably you know that Aurora loves the French language. The opportunity to speak French exclusively and to listen and work to understand people speaking French was a delight for her. She was surprised to find that the sense of age and history all around her was also intensely interesting.
I believe this experience will be one of the key events in her life. I am so pleased that she was able to take full advantage of her opportunities. It’s odd to think of my “shy” daughter making connections with people her own age, older and younger in so short a time. I do believe that when she is French, Aurora is not shy.
We are as pleased as it possible to be.
Thanks so much,
Lizann Peyton: A semester in Joigny
Okay, so it’s not quite like finding out how we would survive on a desert island, but it was an adventure! When our family landed in Joigny last September for a four-month stay, we found ourselves depending on each other in new ways, having to get along in close quarters, and learning a lot about ourselves as well as our new surroundings. But when cultural adjustment had its predictable ups and downs, it was so nice to be surrounded by caring friends in the Hanover-Joigny exchange circle – it’s like we had a new extended family!
After two short summer trips to Italy and France, our family wanted to spend some extended time learning the French language and culture, and “staying put” somewhere so we could really get to know the place. We’ve been inspired by other Hanover and Norwich families who’ve ventured out in the world, whether to Joigny or other places, and we’ve seen how wonderfully supportive our school system is of this “alternative learning time” for kids. “Hooray, we’re going to Paris!” we thought – well, until we found out that bilingual schools for our daughters, Emily (14) and Natalie (11), were already full.
That’s when the gentle voices of Jody Harvey and Rainie Kelly started asking, “Have you thought about Joigny?” The door opened magically to a whole new circle of connection – those who have been to Joigny, and make it possible for the next folks to go. We needed a lot of hand-holding with questions about housing, schools, transportation, email access, phones, etc. – questions that had been agonizingly frustrating to pursue via 4 a.m. trans-Atlantic phone calls to Paris but which resolved nearly instantaneously via the Hanover-Joigny network. A quick email to Rainie or Pietie, forwarded to Marie-Claude Mathiaut, and “presto”! Conversations with the Schusters and Webster-Grants, who have stayed in Joigny with children, were enormously helpful too. “You’ll love it,” they said – and they were right!
Upon arrival, we felt immediately welcomed into the home of Michèle and Jean-Pierre Barreau, whose 3rd-floor apartment we were renting on rue St. Jacques in the historic town center. At not only welcomed into their home – they became our second family, with invitations to family dinners, spontaneous cooking lessons, birthday gifts, a spare room for visiting friends, concern for our welfare and adaptation. “The house feels empty now that you’re gone,” they wrote recently. The Barreaus, the Mathiauts, and the many “Hanover-philes” they introduced us to, all extended a caring welcome and sense of belonging that makes the sister-city concept so special. We have made friends for life, even if we see each other only rarely.
Making a long “sejour” brought specific logistical challenges: finding renters for our house here (Dartmouth’s website produced four fabulous medical students!), asking friends for help with pets, car care, and emergency trouble-shooting during our absence, prepaying insurance and phone bills, clarifying school requirements, making a long count-down list of tasks before we could go. But once in Joigny, internet banking, Valley Net’s email access, and France’s cheap and efficient phone system made it easy to stay in touch.
School was both a wonderful and trying experience for our girls. Ecole Ste.-Thérèse and Collège St.-Jacques – chosen because they were both within walking distance of our apartment – accepted our daughters without a moment’s hesitation, answered our many questions, and were relieved to know that we cared more about cultural exposure than perfect grades! The Dresden schools’ French program had prepared our 8th grader Emily well enough to absorb most of what was going on. But the constant immersion in another language, the more rigid instructional system, and lack of physical activity were all quite an adjustment. Joigny’s kids made up for all this though – they are incredibly helpful, welcoming, and made our girls feel special every day. As we had hoped, our children came home with a deeper appreciation of history, language, and the strengths of both American and European culture (not the least of which is a love for our own school system!). After a couple of months putting French to the back of their minds, they are once again bickering in French at home and asking us questions in a fluid mixture of two languages.
“Staying put” has other challenges besides school – whatever the culture and weather and people are like, that’s what you have to cope with. Daily tasks like figuring out laundry and groceries replace the thrill of hotels and restaurants every night. Missing friends, family, pets, and the way you are “used to being yourself” in your own culture produces an aching feeling late at night. The fatigue of constant learning and summoning the courage to “stick your neck out yet one more time” makes naps a good idea! But the learning is worth every minute of it – never have our brains felt more active, and the chance to step outside our culture and daily routines brought a reflectiveness about the world that we hope we will never lose.
“Staying put” also allowed us to uncover the rhythms of the community and build special memories that otherwise would have been missed – visits from a Ukrainian children’s folk-dance troupe and Godalming’s brass band (Joigny’s sister-city in England), watching the vineyard change colors in the fall, going to birthday parties, volunteering in the schools, joining the local chorus, leading French children on Halloween trick-or-treating (a relatively new custom there, using the grave threat of “bon-bon ou mort” in place of “trick-or-treat”), savoring Christmas mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and fireworks. We had time for many side trips that couldn’t have been squeezed into a 2-week vacation (if you haven’t been under the rooftops at Chateau St. Fargeau or seen the medieval construction taking place at Guédelon, you need to go back!). And best of all, the friendships that had time to evolve will stick in our minds forever – the smiles of local merchants and farmers at the marché, the trading of Christmas cookies and small gifts when we parted, the tearful goodbyes to the Mathiauts and Barreaus, the postcards that continue to arrive almost weekly from our girls’ new friends: “When are you coming back? Soon, we hope!”
So, to all of you in the Hanover-Joigny Exchange Committee who helped make this possible and encourage us to go, an eternal and huge thanks. And to those who are thinking of going, or making a longer stay, do it!!
Steve, Anne, Eva, and Alex Grant of Hanover spent 4 weeks in Joigny during the spring of 2002. Classroom training in the French language at Hanover’s Ray School begins in the fourth grade. A large part of the motivation for visiting France was to put Eva, who was in the third grade, and kindergartener Alex in a French-language immersion environment. Since our kids were more likely to make friends in school than during vacation, we decided to visit Joigny during the school year. The sister-city programs in Hanover and Joigny arrange home exchanges, but these are problematic during the school year, when vacations are rare. We asked the Cercle d’Amite Franco-Américaine de Joigny to help us rent a house or an apartment during our visit. They did much better, the secretary of the Cercle, Marie-Claude Mathiaut, persuaded her brother, Francis, to lend us his vacation home in nearby Laroche, for free! Needless to say, they found our price point and we accepted with alacrity. Marie-Claude’s brother had recently made over the house and almost everything was brand new. When we saw the house, we could not believe our good fortune
Alex and Eva were enrolled in the state-supported parochial Ecole Ste.-Thérèse in Joigny for four weeks. Their reactions were quite different due to their ages, teachers, classmates, and personalities. Eva, who is much more outgoing and whose teacher laid down the law with her classmates, was very popular and loved her classmates. When we drove to school in the morning, Eva made a point of having her backpack handy in the car, so she could race immediately from the car to the playground to have fun with her new friends. At least one of her male classmates was sweet on her. On Eva’s last day, her class lined up to give a send off with the traditional French kisses on the checks. One of the boys kissed her once, and then returned to the end of the line to do so again. Not surprisingly French is now Eva’s favorite subject.
The stars were not as well aligned for Alex, who is quieter, younger, and who had a new teacher less in control of her class. He was happy when the whole experience was over. Interestingly, all was much less quiet when we returned home, where it seemed as if he had whole new appreciation for the wonder of being able to talk. Before we left it was difficult to get Alex to talk, on return (and for while afterwards), it was hard to get him to shut up.
While the kids were in school, Steve was able to practice his French by volunteering at the local tourist office, where he translated French-language tourist brochures into English, and Anne was able to paint watercolors.
This quick account of the summer will describe my experiences in Joigny during the summer of 2002. This was the first time a Dartmouth student traveled to Hanover’s sister city to participate in the exchange.
My travels tend to be a bit charmed. I plunge into the unknown and see how the day unfolds: the last train, the last bus, the last bed in a hostel or a packed night train. Such instances are as good as standard with me. So twelve hours after arriving in Paris, I was not surprised to find myself atop the Eiffel Tower with three people I had just met gazing at the brilliant lights of the city while the winds swept me across the rain slickened metal sheeting. An attendant stood in the stairwell waiting for us tourists to sate ourselves with the view and descend because we had indeed caught the last elevator to the top that night.
A week in Paris prior to arriving in Joigny allowed me to re-accustom myself to expatriate life (and to watch France get booted from the World Cup). The summer really started when my feet left the platform of the Gare de l’Est in Paris and I boarded the train to Joigny. Mme. Mathiaut and the Dufour family met me at the station. After brief introductions, I hopped into the Dufour van and we headed over the Yonne into Joigny proper. The Dufours live on the Boulevard de Nord which cradles the old city center bordered by the Yonne on the south side. Behind the Dufours house, the vineyards stretch southwest to the end of the hills that extend farther northeast into the Forêt d’Othe. There are many wonderful paths that skirt and cross this range of hills; most of them are tractor paths which the IGN (Institut Geographique National) hiking trails weave in and out of. All of them are great for an afternoon hike or jog.
Summoning all my years of French study, invoking the powers of cognates, leaning on the hope that my conjugations weren’t simply unintelligible, I dove into conversations with the Dufours not too much unlike those found in a French I textbook. We talked about family and past times. They were wonderfully hospitable to me and I thoroughly enjoyed our meals together. Like the majority of my days in Joigny, I spent the morning and evening reading, taking notes and studying. I am forever indebted to Françoise Sagan for writing splendid novels that essentially taught me French. Indeed, one might assume I speak Saganois now and that it just resembles French.
July rolled around, I bid farewell to the Dufours in the big city and joined the Millot family in Laroche, a part of France totally foreign to me. If you take a half hour and hike a ways outside the town and then turn around, you will be struck by the image of a green oasis in a sea of gold. I thought I must be in France’s breadbasket because every spot of arable land was sectioned off and sowed. Many days, I would pack a few rations and set off to explore. One particular hike of note took me from Laroche to Looze, over the foothills to la Fourchotte, down into Brion, over the fields to Bussy-en-Othe and across the plain south into Migennes. I suggest better shoes than I had on! Following the canal northeast from Migennes to Brienon-sur-Armançon is another great day trip.
Switching families set up a nice system of comparison to gauge my acquisition of French. The conversations the Millots and I had were more complicated and detailed with each passing day and new list of vocabulary I memorized. By the time I arrived at the home of the Douguets, we were discussing American politics, movies, and current events. I even manage to tell stories about trips I’ve taken. No pedagogue can ever convince me that foreign language instruction in a classroom compares in effectiveness to language immersion. Humans acquire language through the practice of using it, not simply memorizing conjugations and spellings. The opportunity to live in France is a unique and beneficial one for the students of Hanover.
Life in Laroche was dreamlike. I remember the hot sun at my back and the cool stiff breeze off the Yonne during those hazy, endless afternoons. There was always somewhere quiet to walk. Rural life gave way to the cosmopolitan in August when I returned to Joigny. Jérôme Mangeney welcomed me into his house and gave me ample space to read He and I were able to discuss almost any subject. By this time I felt capable of expressing any thought albeit a bit paraphrased at times I could also feel summer losing its grasp in the evenings as the air cooled in tempo with the setting sun. Twilight found the townsfolk outside, walking up and down the pedestrian alley, a quaint, windy strip lined with shops. My favorite one was a bookstore of mostly used paperbacks, speckled with new and hardbound volumes. The shopkeeper was a jolly man who remembered what you bought last time and what you’re still looking for.
As the date of my departure neared, I tended to take more aimless strolls through Joigny. I had to see the church on the hill one last time, the amazing image of its tower glimpsed through the arch from inside the cemetery. I had to bound up the alleys between the houses and down the precipitous streets that seem almost too steep and unforgiving for car travel. I had to say adieu to my trees and trails. I cannot say the summer was short. Each day was full; strung together they created a wonderful bumper between where I had been and where I had to return to. Time passed at exactly the right pace. My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone that made this experience possible and I hope they know it means a lot to me.
Jesse Beach, Class of 2004
September 13, 2002
Joigny Resolution made by Brian Walsh and passed by the Hanover Selectboard.
– ATTENDU QUE: Hanover, New Hampshire, Etats Unis d’Amérique, et Joigny, France, ont choisi de jumeler leurs municipalités il y a dix ans, événement marqué par deux cérémonies, l’une à Hanover en 1993 et l’autre à Joigny en 1994;
– ET ATTENDU QUE: L’alliance initiée au début des années 1990 a été extrêmement bénéfique aux deux communautés, et continue de générer le respect mutuel, l’affection et l’admiration qui ne peuvent se développer que lorsque les citoyens apprennent à se connaître;
– ET ATTENDU QUE: Plus de dix groupes de lycéens de Joigny, plus de dix groupes de lycéens de Hanover, et plusieurs étudiants individuels se sont vus offrir l’opportunité de participer au programme d’échange créé par les deux communautés, avec des visites durant d’une semaine à un semestre ;
-ET ATTENDU QUE: Les deux communautés ont eu le plaisir de forger un lien culturel à travers la musique et l’art, qui a permis au groupe des “Footnotes” du lycée de Hanover de se rendre par deux fois à Joigny, a résulté en des expositions d’oeuvres d’artistes de la “Upper Valley” à Joigny, a mené à des échanges musicaux d’un jeune musicien de Norwich et de trois pianistes de Joigny, et a créé l’opportunité de partager la culture artistique vibrante de Joigny ;
– ET ATTENDU QUE: Environ 25 étudiants de la région de Hanover et 25 de Joigny ont participé à des séjours dans les familles des deux communautés, entretenant une connection continuelle entre les deux communautés, un lien renforcé par l’énergie que seuls les jeunes peuvent mettre dans une telle relation ;
– ET ATTENDU QUE: Les deux communautés ont encouragé des échanges sportifs, y compris des compétitions de tennis et de football;
– ET ATTENDU QUE: Des douzaines de familles de Hanover ont eu le plaisir d’effectuer des visites à Joigny, pour une durée allant de quelques jours à plusieurs mois, où elles ont toujours été accueillies avec generosité, affection et enthousiasme;
– ET ATTENDU QUE: Etant donné la situation internationale actuelle, le type de relation qui a été entretenu avec affection entre Hanover et Joigny illustre la valeur primordiale des relations de personne à personne et accentue le fait que les échanges interculturels peuvent transcender la politique mondiale;
– EN CONCLUSION: Le Selectboard de Hanover exprime par la présente sa gratitude envers Joigny pour la merveilleuse amitié cultivée durant ces dix dernières années, et anticipe avec plaisir la poursuite de cette relation pendant de nombreuses années à venir.
Signé ce 24 mars 2003 Hanover Board of Selectmen _______________________________
Brian F. Walsh, Chair _______________________________
Katherine S. Connolly, Vice Chair _______________________________
William R. Baschnagel _______________________________
Judson T. Pierson, Jr. _______________________________
Peter L. Christie
Letter To Joigny from Pietie Birnie.
Chers amis de Joigny,
Salutations de Hanover à l’occasion du 10ème anniversaire de notre jumelage! Je suis sure que tout le monde s’amuse bien pendant ce week-end du fête. Je regrette que je ne sois pas là pour célébrer avec vous . . . . il faut me résigner à imaginer la scène à l’Espace Jean-de-Joigny en ce moment: une foule heureuse et bruyante, bien habillée et bien coiffée pour une soirée élégante; les belles peintures de Kate et Brian accrochées aux murs; une jolie table couverte de friandises délicieuses et du bon vin; des mots de français et anglais tout mélangés!
Notre délégation est peu nombreuse mais fort engagée. Nous vous apportons tout notre amitié et notre bonne volonté, dont l’expression est plus essentielle que jamais dans cette période de tension internationale. Le lien entre nos deux villes, qui s’est realisé de la rêve de Jean-Luc Allemand, avec l’aide de Jean-Claude Tatinclaux, est devenu très précieux pour nous tous; on ne peut pas concevoir la vie sans ce jumelage.
Pour tout ce que vous faites, nous remercions Jean-Luc, Guy Mathiaut qui continue sa direction, “Sainte” Marie-Claude Mathiaut qui travaillait sans cesse et toujours avec modestie dès la naissance de l’échange, les membres du Bureau et du Conseil d’Administration du Cercle Franco-Américain, et tous les joviniens qui nous acceuillent à chaque visite avec les bras ouverts.
Le jumelage a été célébré en deux temps: d’abord à Hanover en ’93, et ensuite à Joigny en ’94. Nous aimerions continuer cette tradition; donc, nous vous prions de nous visiter l’année prochaine ainsi qu’on puisse fêter comme il faut!
Amitiés et à bientôt,
President of Hanover/Joigny Exchange Program (Hanover)
Dear Hanover-Joigny Supporters
As you can see from reading this newsletter, the Hanover-Joigny connection continues to thrive. In addition to the yearly student exchanges we have families from the area living in Joigny for extended stays. The children are taking classes in the local schools and the parents are getting involved in community activities. We also continue to have high school students go by themselves for long home stays. Coming this direction is a steady flow of young adults. They come for both a school experience or to work. A young man from Joigny was in Hanover working on a three month internship at a local business and was hosted by Hanover families.
With this being the 10th year of the exchange, a series of events were held in Joigny this spring to celebrate. The main event was an art exhibit by Upper Valley artists Kate Chamberlin and Brian Walsh. The artists traveled to Joigny to open the show and were joined by several other adults who were there to represent Hanover. As a gift to the town of Joigny, the Hanover committee commissioned Larry Howard, a local artist, to paint a Hanover street scene. In addition we gave individual gifts to each of the Joigny committee members. For the volunteer committee members to continue the exchanges we depend on your financial support. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Hanover-Joigny Exchange. P.O. Box 574. Hanover, NH 03755.
Thank you for your continued support.