Hanover-Joigny Exchange Newsletter – 2005

LogoJoigny Student Visit July 2-17, 2005
By Sharon MooreTen French students and one chaperone from Joigny, France, arrived in Boston on Saturday, July 2, excited to visit the United States (most of them for the first time). They were given the opportunity to visit with their host families and celebrate July 4 together.

This year, the American students that hosted were reciprocating for their stay in Joigny in April, 2005. Jane Woods brought about 24 Footnote singers and a few chaperones to Joigny. As always, the French were so hospitable to the group; and we welcomed the opportunity to give them a taste of our hospitality.

On Tuesday, July 5, the students were introduced to the town of Hanover and given tours of the Dartmouth campus, Baker Tower, the police station, and the fire station. A special treat was being able to experience sliding down a pole and taking a ride on the “tower”, which took them high in the air. That evening, the students were treated to a potluck dinner at the community center in Hanover where they were given welcome gifts.

For the next two weeks, the host families, the board of directors, and Jane Woods toured them around Boston, Burlington, Quechee, Six Flags, and Hampton Beach. The Ames, the Harpers, and the Konos hosted some wonderful dinners for the group. At the farewell dinner, we had a water balloon toss, a three-legged race, and Jane Woods led the Footnotes that were there in a few songs. After the dinner, the students were treated to Cosmic Bowling in White River Junction.

It is these kind of experiences that make the Hanover-Joigny Student Exchange Program so valuable. It is the reason why board members, teachers, students, 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.
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A French Chaperone’s Perspective
By Isabelle CLEMENTThe whole group was really excited about this trip to the U.S.A. They were all looking forward to discovering the “American way of life” to compare it to what they imagined.

The two weeks were very instructive for the young French. It erased the stereotypes they had learnt from the films or the sitcoms and they were surprised by a number of elements in the ordinary life in Hanover. For example, the size of the houses and the fact that they were mainly made of wood. They were also amazed to realize that most people in Hanover never lock their door during the day and so, the teenagers could easily walk in and out of their friends’ house even if the parents were not at home.

Among the different visits, I think their favourites were the day in the amusement park and the day on the New Hampshire beaches. ( In my opinion, this is mainly due to the fact that the weather was gorgeous on both occasions ). They also really enjoyed their visit to the police station and to the fire station ( especially their trip up the ladder!). As for the rest of the visits, they were so varied that everybody could find an interest in the different propositions.

Above all, I think they liked being with the families, taking part in their everyday normal activities. To this respect, spending the first three days in the family was a really great opportunity to get to know each other.

All the kids were really sad to leave and have been advertising the exchange with enthusiasm in the high-school since the new school year began.

For my part, I spent two fantastic weeks with all of you and can’t wait to come back or to see you in France in the future.

On behalf of the whole group, I want to thank all the families and all the members of the committee for their warm welcome and their great organisation of the whole visit.

See you soon (I hope!)IsabellePS: some news about Jean-Baptiste so everybody can be reassured : his arm healed really well and he is perfectly all right now. He has a big orange cast as a great souvenir of his trip!

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Highlights of Hanover Tour
By Mary QuintonhanovertourOn Tuesday July 5th, the Joigny students, along with chaperone Isabelle Clement, got together for a “Highlights of Hanover” tour. Our first stop was Baker Library, where we were given special access to the tower. Our guide, Travis Gere, led us up winding staircase after winding staircase and upon reaching the top, the group was breathless-both literally and figuratively! The bird’s eye view of the Dartmouth campus and the town beyond really is spectacular.

Next we were off to the fire station for what we thought would be a 45-minute visit. Our hosts, firefighters Michael Hinsley and Michael Hanchett, proved to be more than accommodating. Mr. Hinsley provided explanations and commentary, even using a little French from time to time. We walked around the exterior of the gleaming fire engines, and enthusiastically climbed inside for a peek. When one of the students asked if we could go for a ride, I was surprised when the reply was “Well, let me check.” However, I was truly shocked when the station chief gave us the OK! Minutes later, there we were, crammed into two fire engines, cruising through campus and down Main Street. What an adventure.

Upon our return, our tour continued with a look at the ‘cherry-picker’ and an explanation of its use. Again, one of the students asked if he could go for a ride, and once again the response was “why not”! So carefully, each student was safety-strapped into the cherry-picker and hoisted aloft one at a time. Our allotted 45-minute tour turned into almost two hours, but the students (and chaperones!) seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves.

We ended our visit with a look at the police department where the Joviniens had fun getting locked in one of the jail cells by our guide, Officer Shannon Kuehlwein

The final stop of the day was Storrs Pond. After a few hours of swimming, Frisbee, snacking, and just generally relaxing, we headed back to meet our host families at the high school, tired and happy.
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The Garden Trip To France
By Eileen ClausonImagine it is 1805 and you are sitting with a group of friends in a book-lined, Parisian living room in a 4th floor walk-up apartment, overlooking a quiet courtyard. Spread on a table next to you are Camembert, St. Albans cheese, several pates, Nicoise olives and crusty baguettes. You are sipping delicious Cote de Rhone while listening to one of the group recite from her recently published book of poetry. Recently, eight Hanover area gardeners were in this “soiree” type atmosphere, except it was 2005. The hostess was my friend, Martha, and the poet, a Norwich resident, Pam McCullough. After our feast, we walked to rue de l’Odeon to view the roof garden of Martha’s daughter, Natacha. It was a perfect beginning to an eight day visit of public and private gardens in Paris and Joigny, led by myself and accompanied by gardening professional, Henry Homeyer,

In Paris, we saw the breathtaking rose bushes in the famous Bagatelle Gardens and the meticulously kept flower beds at the Jardin des Plantes, but the real treat was the chance to view private gardens. Parisians have a love affair with gardens and they are tucked in the most surprising places. Who would expect to walk out the rear door of an apartment on the major Boulevard Raspail to find a garden wonderland complete with bamboo plants three stories high, or to walk into a tiny garden next to an ancient house to find our host has strewn the garden paths with rose petals to welcome us?

We left Paris reluctantly but looked forward to first, stopping in Giverny to see Monet’s Garden, and then arriving in Joigny where we would spend four days living with French families while visiting local gardens. While there, we would see an interesting vegetable garden that utilized companion planting rather than chemicals. We were surprised to see dead fish hanging from fruit trees to discourage wildlife. We met a man growing over 200 varieties of fuchsias. A very energetic English woman led us through the flower gardens she had spent a lifetime creating. A nun in Joigny showed us her convent garden with spectacular hollyhocks. We strolled in the garden at Sens Cathedral and toured the town greenhouses where we were amazed to see lily pads in the tropical section that were four feet wide and strong enough to support a small child.

Besides the marvelous gardens, our Joigny hosts invited us to a jazz fest in the town square followed by a food extravaganza featuring many of the local cheeses. The last day of our stay was spent tasting wine in Chablis and visiting the ancient Basilica of Veselay.

Our visit was thoroughly enjoyed by all. We look forward to hosting a group of garden enthusiasts from Joigny in the summer of 2006.
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A Student’s Year Abroad
By Harker RhodesWhen I was in my junior year, a certain foreign study program came to Hanover and made a presentation to interested students on the cultural exchange experience that they offered. I liked the idea of studying in a foreign country; I had always wanted to speak a second language fluently, and I knew that my only chance of being really proficient in another language was to live abroad for some time. Having studied French for many years in school, I was itching for the chance to finally achieve real fluency in that language. Furthermore, I love French literature, art, and cuisine; I’d visited Paris twice on vacation and immensely enjoyed my time there. All in all, I was really excited about the opportunity to spend time at leisure absorbing French culture.

The only thing I didn’t like about the presentation I saw junior year was that this international program was centered on a school full of American students. I knew that in a situation like that I’d spend most of my time speaking English to other kids from back home. Instead, I asked Mme Waters if there was any way I could do a real exchange program, not only staying with a French host family but also going to a French school. She told me that the Hanover-Joigny Exchange Program might be able to arrange that kind of an experience for me in Joigny. Sure enough, over the course of the next months the Exchange Program found me a host family, had me enrolled in the lycee, and helped me with all the other details necessary for my exchange. I can’t possibly thank everyone enough for all the help I received in arranging the logistics of my study abroad; it would have been impossible for me to set everything up on my own.

I got in touch with my French hosts, the Leblond family, through email and mail, before I left the US at the end of August; still, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got off of my plane at the Charles de Gaulle airport. But from the minute I saw my new French family waiting for me outside of customs, I knew how well we’d get along. Having the Leblonds as my host family was the most wonderful part of my entire time in Joigny. They welcomed me into their family with open arms and with open hearts; I never felt out of place or uncomfortable when I was at home with them. Not only did they give me a home away from home in Joigny, they also took me traveling, to show me as much of France (and Belgium, for that matter) as they could. We visited Lille, Soissons, Brussels, Flavigny, Bruges, Alesia, Paris, and many other cities, towns, and sites of historical importance. I never expected to see so much of France while I was living in Joigny. I also spent time with Raynald Boidin and his family. Raynald had lived with my family in Hanover over the summer, and so was one of my first contacts in Joigny. We went on various excursions to nearby towns together, and had great conversations on the joys and challenges of living abroad.

In school at the Lycee Louis Davier, the teachers and my classmates made every effort to help me fit in. I made good friends with many of my classmates, and Louis (my host brother) introduced me to his friends in the older grades. (Although it was my senior year in high school, I was enrolled in the equivalent of junior year at the lycee.) One classmate in particular, Vincent Pellard, became my best friend and ensured that I was never utterly confused as to what was going on around me. Having all my instruction in French in all of my subjects was difficult at times, but always made the material more interesting and ensured that the teachers had my undivided attention. My favorite subject, of course, was my literature class, taught by the incomparable M. Pupier. He proved to be immensely knowledgeable in his field and broadened my understanding of French writers considerably. M. Pernuit, our class’s head teacher, took a special interest in me, and took me to see the medieval cathedral in his hometown of Sens. Ann Moulinet-Loury, an English teacher at the lycee who had visited Hanover the previous summer, introduced me to friends of hers, and gave me a chance to use my English once in a while. Finally, the Joigny members of the Exchange Program (Cercle d’Amitié) invited me to several parties and social events, so that I could meet many more of the citizens of Joigny and get to make as many French friends as possible.

Over the seven months I spent in Joigny, I grew in countless ways. I improved my French language skills immeasurably, I gained a far better understanding of French society, and I absorbed as much French culture as possible. I also made lifelong friendships, and learned how well people treat a stranger who is sincerely interested in their world. I enjoyed myself at every turn, and was truly sorry when it came time for me to leave. From my experience, I whole-heartedly recommend that everyone study abroad if at all possible; I know that I learned much more in Joigny than I would have in a year of school back in the USA. When I visited the Leblond family in Joigny again this summer, it was like returning home. Many thanks to the Hanover-Joigny Exchange Program and the wonderful people of Joigny for making my foreign exchange such a fantastic experience!
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MY STAY IN VERMONT
By Lucille KESSLERLast summer, I had the luck to spend two months in Norwich. I am used to spending summer vacation abroad (I’ve been in Wales, in Austria and in Germany) but it was the first time I was really alone in an unknown town where I didn’t know anyone. It was also the first time when I was alone in an English-speaking country and it was my first long and far travel (2 months at more than 7000 km from home!). So I concede that, when I arrived at the family Peyton-Clark who greeted me, I was a little worried.

My first week was really hard, because I didn’t know English well and it was exhausting for me to be always concentrating hard to try to understand people.

Moreover, I was totally out of my element since everything is different in the USA. The school was for me particularly a great surprise while it’s absolutely not the same than in France. I can’t tell you about all the differences and you just have to come to France to see them. I can’t tell you too which system is the best, because both are nice but in a different way. So it was hard for me to adapt to this funny system without classes in the afternoon, without lunch, without bells.

But because of the family Peyton-Clark my anxiety wasn’t long. All of them were really nice with me and made me feel good. And with them, I discovered all the facets of America. We did a lot of activities in the country (kayaking, tubing, strolls) and with some friends from the High School, I went to a farm.

I learned about American history when we saw “old” towns like Vergennes. It was funny for a French girl to hear that a town built in 19th century is an “old” city! (The houses of Joigny are from the 16th and 17th century and Joigny isn’t one of the oldest French cities).

But I went to big new cities which are different than in France too. I had the pleasure to go to New York City. We saw a show on Broadway, St Patrick’s Cathedral, the Empire State Building and Central Park. For French people, New York is a mythical city and it’s really impressive!

I learned about American cooking too. All the French people say American cooking isn’t good but it’s absolutely false! All that I ate was delicious (especially ice cream, cookies and the “Angel Food cake”!).

I met a lot of very friendly people: the Peyton-Clark family with whom I lived, the French teachers of Hanover High School, some friends from the High School. And now, I know the truth about American people, as there are in France a lot of stereotypes about them (especially about politics and an anti-French feeling.). All of the people I met were very welcoming and made my stay unforgettable. I’d like to thank them for their friendship and their patience.

To conclude, I encourage everybody to spend a few times in an unknown country: it’s really a great experience. And don’t worry, you don’t have to speak well a foreign language to go abroad and have a wonderful stay!