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France: Language & Leadership 2016


Bonjour chers et chères participants,

Clotilde et moi (Jake) sommes impatients (eager) de vous rencontrer (meet) pour de vrai dans une semaine. Oui, UNE SEMAINE! sept jours!

Apportez vos chapeaux pensants français (si vous n’avez pas de chapeau français, c’est pas grave. En fait c’est une expression qui n’existe pas en français alors….. )

And if you didn’t catch all of that, don’t worry about it because it was “assez” corny.
Lot’s to see and do with you all and I have a great feeling that we’re gonna hit it off from day one. So bring your smiles, an adventurous attitude, a willingness to blurt out any French that comes to mind, and we’ll have a blast. (et on va s’éclater!)

(PS. Cette photo date de 2012, alors…. nous avons un peu vieilli, au moins moi, peut- être pas Clotilde.)

A très bientôt

GW blog

Jake et Cotilde

July 6, 2016

Today marks the first day of our Global Works Language and Leadership France trip. After a 7 hour flight and a bus ride to the scenic Versailles, we finally got to our hostel and we were exhausted. But to shake off the fatigue we started off by a few icebreakers and a human knot before we ate pinic lunches in the gardens of the hostel. Then, we overcame the heat and jetlag and headed to the Jardins du Château de Versailles where we strolled around the fountains in the steps of Louis XIV. When we went back to the hostel we had a well-deserved shower and chilled out until we ate dinner and retired for the night.

– Phelan

July 7, 2016

We started our day with a trip to a ropes course. It was honestly the coolest ropes course I have ever been to. When I walked into the trees I felt a little intimated by the ladders and ziplines hanging 40 feet or more above us. I was extremely relieved when I found out that there 4 levels. The first green was about 2 feet off the ground but surprisingly hard for me and my companions. The second level was bleu but we skipped this level and went straight to level 4 (noir). Emma tied herself in and tried to climb up the wobbly ladder but kept falling so we downgraded to level 3 which was not much easier but VERY fun. After we left the ropes course we drove to Elancourt a town 30 minutes away from Paris. We met up with some very nice and fashionable Girl Scouts and we had lunch together and then did some activities to help build our language skills that were très amusant. During these activities we laughed and laughed and communicated with a mixture of French and English. After hanging out with the Scouts we came back to our lodging and ate dinner and watched France play in the semi-finals of the soccer Eurocup.

This day was very exciting and educational and I hope the rest can be just like it. Au revoir!


July 8, 2016

Today, we not only woke up in paradise, but also awoke as champions of a semifinal game! France defeated Germany and soon they will conquer the Eurocup in Sunday’s match against Portugal.

Following a cereal and baguette breakfast was a scenic walk to Versailles. Here the group separated into groups of three and explored the palace for an hour and a half. We learned about the history of Versailles and how it led to the French Revolution whilst strolling through the Hall of Mirrors and Chambers of the King. A beautiful picnic lunch was next. Out group sat near the central man-made waterfall in the Grand Canal which is in front of le château.

After lunch, we took another stroll through the glorious pathways of Versailles to a children’s day camp. For three hours our group of nine entertained fifty children with face painting, hide  and seek, duck-duck-goose, “head, shoulders, knees and toes”, Simon says and tag. The kids were absolutely amazing and by the end of the day they were giving us hugs goodbye. This activity also involved a lot of patience because the kids only spoke French. Translating was challenging but also lots of fun. We learned butterfly (papillon), except for (sauf), shade (l’ombre), spider (araignée) and puppy (chiot). The afternoon concluded with some free time.

Dinner was fish and rice with multiple side options including fruit salad, baguette, yogurt, yogurt, cheese and dessert. It is wise to note that almost everyone has two baguettes. Group conversation after dinner revolved around reflection activities about the day’s work. We all created an illustration for a memorable moment -good or bad- and shared them in French with the group. The rest of the evening’s conversation centered around homestay preparation.

– Carolanne

July 9, 2016

Today we said “au revoir” to Versailles and boarded a train to Carcassonne. The train station in Paris was pretty awesome, with its massive ceilings and rows of trains. From a cafe called “chez Paul” I got an “escargot au raisins” which thankfully doesn’t actually have snails in it. Its sweat, flakey and shaped in a spiral. Merci Clotilde!

We arrived in Carcassonhne in the afternoon and met our host families. I am staying with Clara who is really nice, 24, and studying to be a teacher and she has the cutest puppy, two cats and a tortoise that just casually walks around. She took us to one of her favorite places before dinner: up in the foothills overlooking the vast countryside from the outskirts of Carcassonne.

The view was just incredible. You could see everything, from endless rows of baby olive trees to vineyards to cute little complexes. It was so green. There were also thes gigantic windmills (I think) along the foothills, and in the distance you could see the silhouette of the mountains and more windmills. It looked just like a painting, but better.

Bonne nuit Carcassonne,

– Miranda

July 10, 2016

This morning Carolanne woke me up at 7 to get ready for the day. When we woke up we were the only people awake in the house. We were walking around the house as quietly as possible, every time the house creaked, we cringed. After we got dressed and brushed our teeth, we say in my room and read while listening to music. When someone finally woke up, we went downstairs. We saw that is was the mother, Celine. We gave her our gifts that we brought for them. We sat down fore breakfast with the second younger sister, Maélia. We ate chocolate cereal and bread with nutella. We sat at the breakfast table for a little over an hour. After breakfast, they played a couple of French songs for us and we played some American songs for them. Then, we went upstairs to put on sunscreen and pack our bags. When we were ready, we waited to go in the family room where we watched a kiddie show in French with the kids. Maélia asked me to write works for her and she taught me how to write her name. When we got to the beach, we were so excited to see the other members of the group. We swam in the water for a while. We talked and enjoyed being with people that understood all that we were saying. Being split up, we began to miss the group. After everyone left the beach/ lake, my host family took me and Carolanne to the pool. We were completely wiped out and hadn’t even had dinner yet. We had dinner around 20 minutes after we got back from the pool, but I didn’t eat much because I was a little homesick. I called home and talking to them made me miss them, but it also made me feel better.

– Emma

July 11, 2016

Today was our first full day back with the group after meeting our homestay families.  There seemed liked there was a big change in the group dynamic, especially today but yesterday also.  Probably due to the fact that we could all now appreciate other people being around who also speak English.

The first thing we did after our families dropped us off (thanks for driving me Eva!) was drive to the castled of Carcassonne.  We spent a little time doing a group check in, and then we went to see the castle.  In the area around the castle, there are a bunch of small tourist shops, which we stopped in twice.  I had a crepe with lemon juice and sugar, which wa delicious.  The castle itself was really cool.  I didn’t expect it to be so old.  I also didn’t expect it to be as big as it was, because it was huge.  As I learned along the tour, the castle was considered to beinpenetrable at one point, which I did not expect.  There also were amazing views looking out the Windows of the castle (which I guess makes sense from a military standpoint, but that again, I didn’t realize would exist. When we were done seeing the castle, we ate lunch on some benches by it’s moat.  Again, just being near the castle was cool. After that, we drove to the town where we would be doing our work project when we got there because I was leader of the pack for the day and had to explain to everyone else what Clotilde had told me we would be doing.  Because I don’t like speaking in front of groups of people and I also had to do it in French, I didn’t do the greatest job, so Clotilde stepped in and explained.  It’s good, at least, to keep trying.  We also met with the mayor of the town of Cabrespine, who told us more.  After that we began our work cleaning out an old irrigation “béal” (open roof pipe.)  It was pretty hard for me at least, because I’m not very sttrong.  I think everyone was pretty tired by the end though.  After about an hour and a half we drove back to our original meeting place.  On the way back in the car, we listened to music and sang along really loudly, which was really fun.

– Molly G.

July 12 , 2016

Today was day 2 at our worksite. After the 30 minute drive through vineyards and winding forested hills we arrived in Cabrespine and got right to work “à deboucher” unclog the irrigation canal. Below is Aaron B.’s summary of the project. “Cabrespine once had a very unique, intricate and large irrigation system based on various canals powered by the river alongside it. To an extent it still does exist however in 1999 there was a large storm that resulted in the destruction of much of this irrigation system you will be removing the plants that have grown over the location of the old irrigation system and re-digging the trench that was once there. In doing this work you will help restore the heritage of campers being and it irrigation system. And as restoring these canals is not a financial priority of the town, groups like Global Works are the only way restoring this canal is possible” Fortunately other volunteers such as locals in the village of 180 people, and boy and Girl Scout groups are also contributing to the process. We worked until lunch, but a local town worker called Phillipe (who kindly allowed us to use his bathroom) gave us a 20 minute walking tour, showing us how the “beals” flowed past homes throughout the village, with metal slides and openings to improve access to various locations.

After our eating and sharing our picnic lunches prepared by our homestay families, we did individual weather checks to see how everyone was doing

The afternoon went by quickly and ended in a mini trip to the “gouffre de Cabrespine” an enormous “hole” or cave filled with stalactites and more. The local mayor primarily works here in fact as a being mayor of a town like his is not full time.”

The group then headed back to Carcassonne where our teens jumped back into the cars of their homestay families, les Bouleau, les Kalkal, les Vey, Les Beltran, Les Leutellier et les Castiglione. (Merci à vous pour tous vos efforts en vous occupant de nos jeunes!)

July 13, 2016

Today, we went to Collioure, a town on the Mediterranean coast about 2 hours from Carcassonne. When we got there, we got some free time to walk around the town in groups of 3 and were able to purchase various items of our choice, mostly from the market (fromage!). We all shared our food for lunch.

After we ate lunch, a group of us went swimming at the beach. Unfortunately, some of us had an interesting encounter with sea urchins. I got a few spines in my left foot, left hand, and right knee. According to the doctors they will come out eventually. Even though it was not a great moment for the group, the collective mood was positive and ultimately our experience as a group and individually remained positive as well. We drove back to Carcassonne around 6pm and spent the evening with our homestay families.

-Aaron and Clotilde

July 14, 2016

Today each person got to spend the whole day with their host family, so everybody had a unique experience.  My experience involved traveling by car to toulouse and visiting Le Cite de L’espaces. I walked around there with my host family and learned a lot about space. It was quite difficult for me because everything was in french but ultimately the day was a success because I greatly expanded my vocabulary while getting closer and more acquainted with my host family. Later in the day my host family had a big dinner with their whole family and I couldn’t help but feel lucky to bear witness to this celebration. During dinner everyone was speaking loudly and laughing often and it felt like home. The family consistently made an effort to include me in conversation and make sure I understood, I was very appreciative of that.  Today was Bastille Day, so while everybody experienced the day differently, the one thing almost everybody’s day had in common was the watching of the fireworks. My family was proud to tell me that the fireworks in Carcassonne are the most beautiful fireworks in France, after Paris.  The fireworks ran late into the night. When I got home I fell asleep instantaneously, satisfied with the knowledge that i am making the most of my time in France.


July 15, 2016

Today I woke up at 7:45 and bought croissants from the local Boulangerie around the corner from our homestay house. After breakfast we drove to the parking lot where we met the rest of our group and our leaders. The drive to Cabrespine was 40 minutes and we arrived around 9:20. We put in the extra effort to complete the restoration of the (béal) canal.  Today was the last day of volunteering, and was spent removing the soil, rocks and roots from the canal. At 4pm, we left with a gratuitous sense of achievement, having finished our volunteering for Cabrespine, and we walked over to the Mayor’s office (la Mairie) at the town hall. He thanked us for our work by giving us each each a souvenir bag. We celebrated our achievement with drinks and dessert!  We returned to Carcassonne shortly after.

– Sydney

July 16, 2016

Today was a homestay day, so we both slept in until 11. As a result of the work we had done in Cabrespine and the earlier wake-up times throughout the week, we were both very tired and each got around 12 hours of sleep, which was wonderful. On Thursday night, we went out to see the Bastille Day fireworks (which were beautiful!!), and our host mother Karine noticed a poster for an exhibit that a museum was showing, so we elected to visit that today. The exhibit showcased different furniture items that were features of captivating material use and incredible architectural concepts. A couple pieces that especially stood out were this one couch made of various canvas fabrics with prints that looked like Japanese magazines, resulting in a very cool color and multi-directional lettering mix, and a table that looked like it could’ve been from the set of a 90’s sci-fi film with its metal construction and popping anodized colors of a bright purple and lime. After that, we went to a chocolate shop nearby which also sold ice cream, and we both asked for 2 scoops of the coffee flavor. We both agreed that it was easily the best ice cream we’ve ever had. After that, we went back to the house, ate lunch, and relaxed in our rooms for the rest of the day.

– Aaron et Sydney

July 17, 2016

Sunday- our final day with our host families. I have had the incredible opportunity to experience my host family adventure with Emma. On our final day, Emma and I were welcomed with cereals, breads, fruits and nutella. After our not so “petit” petit-déjeuner, Emma and I played an intense hour and a half round of the card game “Kings” with our host parents. It is a partner game and Emma and I beat them 30-8. We concluded the morning with listening to Disney music while making buckeyes. Buckeyes, famously known from Ohio State, are a peanut butter and chocolate candy. Being from Ohio, I brought the recipe to share. While the peanut butter balls cooled, our nine-person family enjoyed a burger lunch. Around 3pm, the buckeyes were cool enough to be dipped in chocolate – a sweet dessert for the evening ahead. It is important to note that not all families stayed indoors this day: other activities included visiting the zoo, space museum, going on bike rides, watergun fights and shopping at markets.

The evening concluded with a group potluck at a local lake. Dinner options were quiche, buckeyes, pie, cakes, madeleines and pizza. Emma and I taught the ‘Kings’ game to the group. Six of us played a very mad round. We took family pictures and exchanged information to remain in contact. We are so incredibly thankful to have the many memories created this week. All of the families were an enormous blessing and we send them all a very big ‘Thank you’ for all their care, support and food.


July 18, 2016

Monday morning we gathered at the petite gare de Carcassonne where we said farewell to our homestay families and boarded the train to Paris. We napped, played Mash in French and English, ate the last of our family packed lunches, and tried ignoring the gradually increasing temperature that would define our 36 hour stay in Paris. We arrived at the Gare de Montparnasse, our trip leader Clotilde’s stomping ground as it’s where she gets her commuter rail out to the suburbs where she teaches English.  After grabbing supplies at the local pharmacy, we took a private, airconditioned (YES!)  bus to our hostel ‘La Mije’ located in the marais, a 5 minute walk from Notre Dame de Paris. We dropped off our bags around 3:30 and headed out to discover Paris with the little time that we had. We used the hop on hop off buses, which felt quite touristy, but we used them as a precaution during these delicate times in France with the increased security vigilance. It worked out well actually because it cut back on a ton of walking and presented us with a non stop visual tour of the city. drove along the Seine, through Concorde and it’s 3,000 year old Obelisk, up and down the Champs Elysees, around the Eiffel tour and finally leading us to Montmartre. We were seated in a little French Cafe/ Restaurant called le Nouveau Carrilon, along rue des Abbesses, in the heart of the lively montmartre neighborhood in the 18th arrondissement, or shall I say….Aaron-dissement..? OHH!!! (reference to how our participant Aaron B’s name is pronounced in French (ah,rone);   Our meals included salad, tagliatelle aux legumes,escalope de veau avec des pates milanaises, crepes au nutella and other options. It was so hot that we took even took a fresh air break between our “plat principal” and “dessert” (pronounced day-sair, not day-zair!) After dinner half of us were beat from battling the heat in this country that doesn’t embrace air conditioning like the Americans do, but the other half stayed out with me ,(trip leader Jake) and my Parisian French friend Antoine.  Our mini group of adventurers explored
Montemartre and it’s  enchanting back alleys. The teen participants told me later that upon breaking off on their own for 45 minutes, they sat in silence in a secluded part of the neighborhood, looking out across the city, taking in the awe of this impressive city. (thanks for the anecdote Molly 🙂 ) We decided to walk home all the way to the Marais, stopping along the way to learn about the city through the eyes of a true local, Antoine,
who nonchalantly would stop and point out some interesting little fact. Only one more day!

– Trip Leader Jake K (with feedback from Molly, Miranda and Emma)

July 19, 2016

On our first full and only day in Paris it’s an understatement to say we did a lot. First revisited the Arc de Triomphe and climb stairs after stairs to get to the top and be able to view most of Paris. Then we all went shopping on the Champs Elysées some went to Hugo boss and some went to souvenir shops.  Afterwards, we went to a pedestrian, cafe filled neighborhood around the corner from the Eiffel tower where we were given money to go try out to a French restaurant for lunch. (Jake and Clotilde encouraged us to try and get an entree, plat, dessert, or at least 2 of the 3 to try the specials of the day) After Lunch and of course, ice cream or fruit from the small fruit market, we took 2 short bus transfers over to the musee d’orsay and saw the works of Montel and Van Gogh.  We then went to dinner where some tried escargot for the first time, and finally we took a boat down the Seine river at night which perfectly capped of the trip.

-Phelan H