Monthly Archives: January 2017

A Weekend in the North of France

After classes today, students headed off with hosts for a second and final weekend in Rennes. Tentative plans include shopping at the Saturday food market (the second largest in the country), attending sporting events, and relaxing with the famille. Some may even have the chance to visit Normandy where Allied forces landed during World War II.

Most importantly though, the weekend affords us the opportunity to further reflect on our cultural immersion at Lycée Saint-Martin and in Brittany. Viola Corning (’18) recorded her thoughts this evening:


Our Last Day at School

Our last day at Lycée Saint-Martin was marked by blue skies and a full day of classes. Students were treated to lessons in Biology, Philosophy, Theater, Computing, and Maths, taught by Saint-Martin teachers.

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Lycée Saint-Martin faculty member Mme. Seppey helps students understand the tradition of philosophy in French high schools.


Shushu Fang, Nancy Zhou, Paige Madigan and Lyrik Garyk (’18) enjoy classes.

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Pictured left to right are Gaelen Carroll, Lillian Parrotta, and Maya Butensky (’18) with Maddie Duchesneau (back left) and Carmela Daponte-Smith (back right) during an acting exercise.

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During the second half of Thursday at the Lycée, our students partook of two cultural pastimes organized by our hosts: making crêpes and Breton folk dancing!

We were guided in our crêpe-making by two retired teachers who returned especially to teach us how to prepare this delicious pastry.

Breton dance forms a part of Brittany’s Celtic history. A dance troupe led our students through the moves, and even introduced some to the bagpipes!

Maya Butensky (’18) applies her musical skills to a new instrument.


Cultural Exchange & the Planetarium

Our students started off the day with a lecture from Monsieur Février on Brittany’s past and present. Next, Monsieur Février invited some of his French students to join the class and share their views of America with our students, while likewise requesting our students to share their perspectives on France with his pupils. He thereby orchestrated an intercultural exchange and mutual learning opportunity.

Jane Maeng (’18) conversing with French students during an exercise. Maddy Tamms and Lyrik Garyk (’18 — pictured in lower right corner).



Nancy Zhou, Macy Reid and Maya Butensky (’18) in conversation with Monsieur Février’s students.



And afterwards, we were treated to a visit to the Rennes Planetarium. We gathered outside in light rain to take this photo, and consequently it is not clear, but nevertheless it provides a sense of the Planetarium’s structure.





Learning in French

This Wednesday morning, our students immersed themselves in subjects from Mathematics to Spanish, all in the French language and alongside their French peers. At times called upon to offer perspectives and/or comparisons based on their experiences at Porter’s, our students were given the opportunity to participate in an academic day at the Lycée Saint Martin.

Following classes, our students dispersed to join their hosts in a number of activities.

Several were invited to a much anticipated event about which we have been hearing nearly all week: a visit to “McDo” or McDonald’s — which, in France, serves macarons. Below, Porter’s students (from second on the left to second on the right) Lyrik Garyk, Nancy Zhou, and Katherine Bishop (’18) enjoy a meal with their hosts.



Others visited cultural sites, or even left the city for a short day trip. Below, Maya Butensky (’18) captures a beautiful view at Dinard:



A Half-Day Immersion

This is the first school day during which Porter’s students will accompany their hosts to the Lycée’s regularly scheduled classes. Since it is a half-day, we will meet as a group shortly before noon for our daily reflections together, but until that time, it’s all about being immersed in the Lycée Saint Martin!

As we look forward to the morning schedule, we also thank our hosts for a remarkable series of site visits yesterday. In honor of these, please find below (from left to right) Gaelen Carroll, Carmela Daponte-Smith, and Lillian Parrotta (’18 — pictured top), Jane Maeng (’18 — pictured middle),  Lauren Boyes, Maddie Duchesneau and their French hosts (’18–pictured below) at Mont Saint Michel abbey.




We also wish to thank our hosts for arranging a bowling activity last evening with Porter’s students, host students, and host families. At the bowling venue, from left to right, please find below Viola Corning, Shushu Fang, (’18–pictured top), Katherine Bishop, Lyrik Garyk and Maddy Tamms (’18 –pictured below).



For now, though: off to classes!


Saint-Malo and Mont Saint Michel Abbey

Tuesday found Porter’s visiting Saint-Malo, a coastal town in Brittany with origins in Roman times. Monsieur Février of the Lycée Saint Martin called our students’ attention especially to the walled city’s unique place in World War II history: Allied Forces mistakenly believed the community to be harboring the German military, and thus advanced a structurally devastating attack. Nevertheless, the beautiful town persists, and attracts many tourists during the summer months (fortunately, not so many right now).

Porter’s students and their hosts:



View of ocean from Saint-Malo, taken by Nancy Zhou (’18).



Monsieur Février delivers lessons:




Next, our hosts took us to Mont Saint-Michel, a small island that is home to a breathtaking abbey dating back to the 6th century, as well as smaller structures with similarly striking historic, stone architecture.

The Porters’ students and our hosts at Mont Saint Michel Abbey:



Lunch with hosts. Porter’s students (seated on bench) from left to right: Lillian Parrotta (’18), Shushu Fang (’18), Gaelen Carroll (’18), and Carmela Daponte-Smith (’18).



Lyrik Garyk (’18) gives Maddy Tamms (’18) a lift at the top of one of the abbey’s many staircases.



Monsieur Février continues his lecture inside the abbey.



And finally: the whole group, including our amazing French faculty hosts Mme. Marie Bodin and Mme. Siran Thomas (bottom left) and Monsieur Février (second row back, farthest right), on the steps of the Lycée Saint Martin.


A Day at the Lycée (and out in the City!)


It has been a full day! At the outset, the students toured the school, and were greeted by the principal, Monsieur Guilbert, who offered us a warm and generous welcome.

Lycée Saint Martin faculty member Monsieur Février subsequently became our teacher, guide, and advisor for the day, leading the students through a bilingual writing lesson and then leading us — quite literally — through historic Rennes itself, where the above photograph was taken of our full group.

Shushu Fang and Nancy Zhou (’18 — pictured top), Carmela Daponte-Smith (’18–pictured middle), and (right to left) Macy Reid, Maya Butensky, Gaelen Carroll, Lauren Boyes, Maddie Duchesneau (’18 –pictured below) having croissants and other refreshments for breakfast at the Lycée:


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Monsieur Février then led a lesson with our students — Shushu Fang (’18) and Katherine Bishop (’18):



And later, he led us on a tour of Rennes, using city structures and monuments to study the area from medieval to modern times:



First Day of School!

Our students are beginning their first day attending the Lycée Saint Martin. Porter’s students will accompany their hosts to school, where we will engage in a day of programming with host teachers, and we will convene at 4PM local time (16:00) for an hour of reflection together, after which all will head home with their host families for the evening.

More later! For now, enjoy these photos of our students at the start of their school day:

Lyrik Garyk (’18) and Viola Corning (’18).



Lauren Boyes (’18) and Maddie Duchesneau (’18).



Nancy Zhou (’18) and Maya Butensky (’18).



Paige Madigan (’18), Lillian Parrotta (’18), Carmela Daponte-Smith (’18).