Hanover-Joigny Exchange Newsletter – 2004


This year’s articles include:

– Comings and Goings, by Pietie Birnie
– Upcoming French Garden Tour, by Eileen Clauson
– Student Visit to Hanover, by Sharon Moore
– Student Visit to Joigny, by Judy Csatari
– Impressions of a Student, by Melania Lindberg, HHS 2005
– Impressions of a Student, by Iain Prendergast, HHS
– Impressions oF a French Intern, by Raynald Boidin
– Girls’ Soccer Trip to Joigny, by Francie Prosser-Riessen
– Learning French the Fun Way!, by Gloria Finkelstein


by Pietie Birnie

Despite the general slowdown in international travel during the past year, there have been several individual visits between folks in the Upper Valley and Joigny.

This summer, Raynald Boidin, a 21 year old Jovinien studying industrial engineering and management at INSA in Lyon, came to Hanover for eight weeks. As a requirement for his degree, he needed to carry out an internship in an English-speaking country. Raynald’s account of his stay appears in this newsletter. We are extremely grateful to Victor Petrenko for creating a place for him in his laboratory and watching over his work and to the Rhodes family for welcoming him into their home.

Sandie Anderson and Reeve Williams spent a day in Joigny during a June trip to France. They visited with Marie-Claude Mathiaut and Maggy Albertelli at L’Espace Jean-de-Joigny and with Ombeline, Martine, and Jean-Luc at the Allemand home.

Ned Mc Carthy, lured by an irresistible offer of a really cheap apartment, took off for Paris with his wife, Jane, and her two sisters and brother-in-law for two weeks in July. The apartment was bare-bones: mattresses on the floor, hot water only in early morning and evening (what else would one expect, staying in Montmartre, renting from a landlord who is a philosophy professor at the Sorbonne?!). Nonetheless, they had a great time: meeting for lunch with Guy and Marie-Claude Mathiaut from Joigny; taking an all-day bike trip to Versailles with the Fat Tire Bike Co; and getting upgraded to business class on the flight home.

When the Mc Carthy clan vacated the apartment, Eileen Clauson took their place for three weeks. She was on a reconnaissance mission to plan for the gardeners’ trip she is organizing for next year (see separate article), selecting hotels, gardens to visit, and a tour guide. She reconnected with several old friends: the Parisian woman she lived with last year; the mother of Laurence Mariello, a student visitor from Joigny many years back; and Emily Donahue, formerly of Norwich and now living permanently in Paris. A highlight was visiting the water-lily gardens near Bordeaux where Monet bought many of his water-lilies.

Currently, Harker Rhodes is spending his senior year of high school at the lycée in Joigny. Harker was able to complete all the requirements for graduation from HHS before he left, with the exception of senior English, which he is satisfying by taking French literature at school in Joigny! Upon his arrival, he was warmly met and introduced to the town and school by Raynald Boidin. Harker is living with the Leblond family, who have a son his age.


by Eileen Clauson

If you have a passion for both gardens and France, you may be interested in joining a group of 12 adults who will travel to Joigny in June ’05. to spend 4 days touring Joigny area gardens while living with a French family. Four days will also be spent touring private and public gardens in Paris including a day trip to Giverny to see Monet’s garden.

Participants would be expected to host a gardener from Joigny the following year. Trip leaders will be Eileen Clauson and Henry Homeyer, author of, “Notes from the Garden: Reflections & Observations of an Organic Gardener”. For further information, contact Eileen Clauson at eileenclauson@hotmail.com or 603-643-4432.

by Sharon Moore

Seven students and one chaperone from Joigny, France, arrived in Boston on Saturday, April 17, excited to be in the United States (most of them for the first time). On Sunday, they were treated to a delicious welcome dinner by the Board of Directors and the families hosting their two-week stay. From some of the conversation we had with the students, we could sense that it was going to be a great two weeks.

The students were given tours of the Dartmouth campus and Hanover, Ben & Jerry’s Factory Store, the Teddy Bear Factory in Shelburne, Burlington, the Holyoke Mall, and the Yankee Candle Factory in Deerfield, Mass.

On Saturday, April 24, they spent an entire day touring Boston. We started out by visiting the Prudential Building’s observation deck. We then headed over to the New England Aquarium where the visitors watched a sea lion show and a 3-D Imax movie. Next we boarded the USS Constitution for a cruise around the harbor. From there, we walked to the Quincy Market for dinner and shopping.

The visitors also went to CCBA, watched a Dartmouth Baseball game, spent time at the King Arthur Flour Studio making bread, and spent some valuable time at Hanover High School, Richmond School, Ray School French Club, and Crossroads Academy. So many people took extra time out of their day to make our guests feel welcome.

The French students were overwhelmed with the hospitality they received. They enjoyed watching a baseball game for the first time as well as visiting a large shopping mall for the first time. But the one thing they seemed to enjoy the most was sitting around a camp fire and tasting smores for the first time. An evening barbeque is something we Americans take for granted, but it is a rare treat for the French.

It is these kind of experiences that make the Hanover-Joigny Student Exchange Program so valuable. It is the reason why board members, teachers, and parents give so much time to this program. We want to encourage our students to learn from the French and for them to learn from us. It is just one small part we can play to help increase understanding and respect between people around the world.



by Judy Csatari

When Sharon Moore asked me to write about this year’s Hanover-Joigny exchange, I immediately agreed. The home stays on both sides of the Atlantic went very well, and the experiences shared by the students and their host families were enriching and memorable. As I thought more about the task at hand, I wondered what I could say that you haven’t heard before; how would I convey the unique experience of this year’s group. I think an experience at the outset of the journey to Joigny sums up the experience better than any recitation of excursions or comments heard; and it may even change the way we in Hanover think about the Hanover-Joigny exchange.

This year’s participants were like many who have hosted and traveled over the past 10+ years: the students came from a variety of grades and with a range of ability in spoken French and English. The Hanover students bonded quickly and deeply with their French guests in April, and the energy level was high as we Americans traveled down to Boston for our overnight flight to Charles De Gaulle airport. One of the only glitches of the entire exchange occurred upon arriving at the airport in Paris. We chaperones knew that someone would be meeting us at the airport for the hour-and-a-half bus trip from Paris to Joigny. What we didn’t know were the details of the arrangements. With bleary eyes we scanned the greeters holding placards as we exited from customs, and our quick read didn’t reveal any placards even remotely connected to Joigny. After two hours of waiting and after three calls to my host, having no contact information for the Joigny leaders of the exchange, things were straightened out and a man with a placard entitled “Cercle D’Amitié” approached and saved us from what we had determined would be our own enactment of this summer’s Tom Hanks movie!

Our two-week visit in Joigny was graced by sunny skies, warm days and cool nights. We visited cathedrals and monuments, and graves and tombs. We enjoyed a music recital in which one of our Joigny friends was a featured performer; and we celebrated “Les Nuits Maillotines” in the streets of Joigny. We traveled to Paris on two separate occasions and ogled at and were impressed by Notre Dame, Le Centre Pompidou and Les Invalides. Our students “shopped ’til they dropped” à la français and adopted la bise without a second thought. They were awed by the history that surrounded them wherever they went; and they imagined what it must have been like for medieval pilgrims to arrive at Vezelay when our guide finally opened wide the massive, main portals to the cathedral’s sanctuary. And our teenagers tackled sensitive political issues of the day, learning that we (France and the U.S.) are more alike than different. They were frustrated over the occasional inability to communicate, but more often than not the teenagers found a way to make themselves understood. The HHS students and their Joigny hosts grew closer to one another before our very eyes. And best of all they became a part of the cercle d’amitié, which is, after all, what our counterparts in Joigny call the Hanover-Joigny Exchange!


by Melania Lindberg, Hanover High School 2005

Being given the chance to go to Joigny this past summer, was the opportunity of a life time. I have never had so much fun and still learned so much in two weeks of my life. Not only did I visit some of the most famous sites in France, but I also discovered the French culture.

My host family was amazing and made sure that my trip was more than enjoyable for the whole time I was there. Their generosity was evident when they drove six hours up to Normandy so I could visit some of the sites. After hearing so much about D-Day this year and seeing the American cemetery in the back ground of the news reports, I thought that it would be great to be able to go see something like that while I was in France. Before I knew it I was getting up at 4 o’clock one morning on my way to that cemetery. After arriving at our prolonged destination, I was astounded by the kindness this family was putting forward for my happiness. After walking among the tombs and watching the waves hit the beach, we were off again to another intriguing place.

We had an amazing French lunch on the beach of Normandy and there are no words to describe my feeling of contentment at that moment. Not only did they sacrifice their days at work to drive me six hours in one direction, to see something that they all had already experienced, but they bought me presents and explained everything along the way. They tried their best to speak English and I understood more than I expected.

I was presented with an English book of the sites in Normandy, so that I could give something to my family. Then Marie (my French correspondant) and I each bought a clicker, that was once used by soldiers to know who was on their side. We joked about, that when I went back to the U.S. I would click my cricket and Marie would click back. This was one example of the simplicity of our fun, another included noting the differences of the animal sounds in the different cultures. After this experience, I can honestly say that I had the time of my life and I have already begun my plans for a return this following summer.


by Iain Prendergast, HHS

I think that the best thing we did was stay with a family. Not only did this force us to speak French, but we also got to pick up a lot of cultural ideas that we would have been unable to learn in French class at school. Also, although we spent a lot of time speaking English with the other American kids, we also spoke French to French kids. From them, I learned idiomatic expressions and ways to express myself in French that I would not have learned in school.

I enjoyed spending time in France because I was allowed to do a lot of tourist things, such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and Vezelay visits. I was also allowed down time to do whatever the family wanted to do. That is why I think that the itinerary for the trip was very well organized. We were allowed to do both, and that was great. So, thank you for allowing me to go on this trip. It was a lot of fun, I learned French, and I got to see a lot of beautiful places in France.

by Raynald Boidin

I spent two months in Hanover from the 20th of June to the 22nd of August. I lived in a very nice host family , the Rhodes family. My first surprise was the beauty of the village. Everything is green, the nature looks savage (wild), I was able to swim in the river or in one of the magnificent lakes around the town. Joigny is beautiful too, with its ancient monuments, but Hanover has got another grace.

I quickly noticed that people were very nice, too. All the residents I have met are very friendly and warm. In particular, the members of Rhodes family: Harker, Andrea, Rachel, Travers and Harker, who have been very nice with me during my whole journey. They made me discover a lot of new activities like kayaking, hiking, squash, trap-shooting etc. I had a lot of fun with Fedor Petrenko and his friends, too.

I did my internship in Thayer School of Engineering (Dartmouth College) in the laboratory of Professor Victor Petrenko. I had to find marketing opportunities for the technologies that the Petrenko’s team is developing. My internship was very interesting and I learned a lot.

I want to thank all the people who helped me to spend an amazing and unforgettable journey in Hanover. I mean the Rhodes family, the Birnie family and in particular Pietie who helped me a lot, the Richardson family, all the Petrenko family and of course the Hanover French Exchange association in general. And I am looking forward to going back to Hanover.

by Francie Prosser-Riessen

soccerThis past June, eleven 12 year old girls and assorted parents headed to Joigny for a 5 day home stay. The trip was organized around planned soccer games with local teams. It became clear early on that soccer was purely the vehicle through which we all “experienced” each other. The idea of a theme based trip helped facilitate and accelerate the level of interaction among all of us, both French and American.

The first weekend, still stumbling from jet-lag, the girls played in a local tournament. Of the three French teams at the match, one was a girl’s team, still a rare sight in France. Culture shock hit as we saw the competition arriving, a few smoking cigarettes and drinking espresso from the local bar at the field. It turned into quite a fun-filled day. Even a mother-daughter scrimmage (American and French mothers) kept us all laughing and humble. The day ended on a lovely note when the French girls team gave their winner’s cup to the Hanover team in a burst of spontaneity. The gesture left us momentarily speechless on the sidelines.

The Hanover team played 3 more local teams during our visit. Each one noted for their individual team and town personalities. Of note was the brilliant sunny afternoon game against Mont St. Sulpice. Hanover “borrowed” one of their goalies in an attempt to level the playing field. Later on, the teams mixed boys and girls, even switching jerseys! The game was close. Following refreshments, many parents, the referees, coaches and most players from both “sides” poured onto the soccer field, abandoning shoes, cleats, socks and allegiances to play a joyous (yet competitive) pick-up match under a crisp blue sky.

In addition to the soccer, the carefully planned activities allowed everyone to find something of interest. Each child and adult had multiple opportunities for language and cultural exchanges. The host families and Joigny committee members could not have been more accommodating. The soccer provided an excellent medium for this exchange. It truly accelerated the rate at which adults and children actively participated in daily events, making this a most remarkable experience for each of us.


by Gloria Finkelstein

French is everywhere in the Upper Valley! Young children now have the opportunity to learn french – the fun way! There is an after school french club for children in grades K – 5 at the Ray School every Tuesday afternoon from 2:45 – 4:00 pm. Check out the web site: http://www.rayschoolfrenchclub.org

In addition, I am also also offering pre-school and after K french ” fun” classes at the Hanover Recreation Center.The kids enjoy participating with lots of movement and music: greetings, alphabet, numbers, songs ,colors and more! There are early morning, late morning and after school classes. The response is growing….. We are planning classes for our next session. Call me at 603-643-4311 for more information!