Reflections: Part 2

Today, our students are reflecting on opportunities where they’ve been able to practice their leadership skills during the trip. Some wanted to relate this reflection to their experience at Mont Saint-Michel today.

Zoe: At Mont Saint Michel on Tuesday we were able to see some amazing sights and spend time with friends but it was extremely cold. Everyone was struggling to keep warm throughout the day because the building does not have any heating so we almost never went inside to warm up. Even though she could not completely warm us, Darian kept telling us to zip up our coats, gave us scarves, and kept our minds off the cold so that we could still have a good day despite the temperature. It is always difficult to focus on something if you are too cold or too hot which is unfortunate because at Mont Saint Michel, we were in the presence of such beauty and Darian made it possible for us to appreciate it and spend our time admiring instead of complaining.

One of the main qualities of a leader is being able to keep people on task. In France that idea is most prevalent because this is a once in a lifetime experience and it would be a shame to waste it. Everyday we have the opportunity not only to practice our language but also to immerse ourselves in another culture and witness incredible buildings, towns, and people. Being able to focus on that as opposed to something as mundane as the cold is very important and by doing that Darian demonstrated key leadership qualities.

Laura-Joëlle: When we went to Mont Saint Michel today, after climbing the seemingly endless amount of steps, we arrived at the entrance of the castle’s museum and had to decide on languages for audio guides. Most people decided to go with English because that is easier to understand than the fast-speaking narrator in French. However, Kami decided to go with French after everyone voted for English. Up until that point, I had been fine either way with English or French, but Kami’s decision inspired me to choose a French audio guide so that I could improve my language further. That is one of the main reasons we went to France for InterMission after all. Anyway, I was surprised I could understand almost all of what the narrator was explaining about Mont Saint Michel except for a few vocabulary words here and there. So in the end, I was happy with the French audio guide, but I wouldn’t have had that experience if it weren’t for Kami’s leadership in our language learning.

Darian: Today we took a trip to Saint- Michel. I remember when I was young I saw a picture of Saint-Michel and was entranced by the sea and the architecture but I had no clue where the Abbey in the photo was. To actually go there after all that time was quite amazing. My favorite part of the Abbey was this large wheel in the middle of quite a small room. With the help of the audio guide I had learned that the wheel was installed when the Abbey was a prison in 1872. The wheel was used to hoist materials such as wood for the fires and food.

Tania: Today, we visited Mont Saint Michel. The island never ceased to surprise me. The view from the start was impressive. You could see a large extension of sand, which would then get to the ocean. The island is surrounded by water during the high tide, and by dangerous sand during the low tide. This made Mont Saint Michel’s location ideal, since it served as protection from its enemies. Its original settlers must have been very smart, since they were able to see potential in a rocky island.

I have always been interested in French History, and have seen many documentaries and Tv shows because of it. With the help of my previous knowledge and the audio guide, I was able to imagine how many rooms inside the monastery would have looked like. Some were very elegant, while others were simpler. There was a specific room that really resembled one I saw in a Tv Show: the “party” room. This room must have been very flamboyant, since its purpose was to receive many guests.

Susan: Throughout our stay at Lycée St. Martin, everyone in our group demonstrated leadership during the English classes we had with the French students there. In each class, each one of us would usually be arranged into smaller groups with French students. For a lot of the times, we needed to take the initiatives and to guide the conversation in order to help them with their English speaking or writing skills. For instance, we were once in an English literature class, in which their assessment was to write a gothic short story in English and we were there to help them with ideas, structures, vocabularies, and grammar. All of us stepped up and helped them with creating their stories from beginning to the end, as well as looking for topics or fun stories to let them know more about America. I think leadership particularly plays an important role in exchanges, for both us and the local students.

Joi: Despite all of the cold air and forceful winds, today’s excursion was full of excitement, history, and wonder. We had the pleasure of traveling to Mont Saint-Michel, which is an island home to a grand chateau, first constructed in the late 10th century. After mounting over 300 plus stairs, our audio guided tours were filled with detailed descriptions of each room’s purpose, artwork, or evolution over time. As we entered the former dining room of the chateau, I overheard someone say “Imagine living here in this big castle all by yourself. What would you even do with all of this?” That comment prompted me to take in the reality of this excursion. I suddenly realized that this was not like going to any other museum, because this centuries-old structure held the lives, stories, and hard work of thousands of different people within its walls. The audio tour provided information that was descriptive enough to imagine what the chateau would look like if it were full of people who were using it the way it was intended to be. I found this to make our visit much more insightful as it gave the rooms throughout the huge old stone building some personality, from the many places of worship to even the quarters that housed prisoners. Another interesting comment I overheard was when Robi mentioned “No one ever lives to see their creation. They all died before it was ever finished.” This caused me to take a deeper look at the power of impact. The people who first broke ground on the construction of Mont Saint-Michel probably had no idea of how long the building would last, how much it would expand, or even how useful it would be throughout the course of history. However, despite not having this knowledge they dedicated incredible amounts of time and effort into fortifying this structure, and it seems as if their efforts have now paid off. We, as students, are fortunate enough to see this fortress, as a structure that  provides so much information about history and culture has developed over time, but to those who lived and worked within it was just their home/workplace. I am grateful to have had this opportunity to visit Mont Saint-Michel, as it has made rethink the ways we interpret the world around us as well as the impact that we will leave for those who follow.

Kami: To day was Mont St. Michel which was a really fun bonding experience to go up those stairs! But I think that the France group is gelling really nicely. As a group of strong leaders, I think that we all balance the ways we lead with each other and often work together. I think there is strong balance especially in groups to keep each other moving and make sure everyone is going the right way. Specifically, when we were choosing between things to do in Paris, I.t was nice people were able
To advocate and say the group should go to the louvre for a better experience and more free time. And today we were unsure of when to eat and we discussed it and knew how helpful it would be if we ate after so we didn’t walk on full stomachs. A lot of the decision we make are really helping each navigate and have best time possible here in France especially when it comes to times.


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