All Posts

Park School France

March 15-16, 2019

Hi there! Everything is going great in France. We’re currently in Avignon at the Palais des papes. More details coming soon! In the meantime, check out our photos on the pont d’avignon, at our picnic by the Palais des Papes, and in front of the restaurant, Le Vintage, last night. For our first dinner in france, we had chicken, potatoes and eggplant (poulet, pomme de terre et aubergine) with chocolate mousse for le dessert!

March 17, 2019

On Sunday, we had a nice morning visiting the Pont d’Avignon and then went shopping to the famous indoor market of Les Halles. After we had bought all of the food, we walked up to a Park and had a nice picnic, reflected on what we had learned and experienced, and got to have some peaceful alone time. After the nice picnic, we walked down to the entrance of the Popes Palace, a large and beautiful castle. During the course of 100 years, France has had nine popes. First, we visited the court yard of the castle, where the town folks would gather when there was an announcement, and went to the bathroom. After this, we travelled to a common room with many beautiful paintings. In one room, we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the paintings, which was at first, confusing, but I later learned the reason why. Because they were 14th century paintings, they wanted to preserve the quality of each painting. After hearing this, I was surprised why other museums with famous works of art wouldn’t do the same. On the TV screens around us, there was a simulation of what the rooms did actually look like during their time. For example, the dining room had the places everyone sat and had the silverware, and even the table cloth (une nappe en Français). The most exciting experience at the castle was traveling to the top of the high pillars.

When we went to Les Halles, my group was in charge of getting cheese. There was an incredible selections of many different colorful cheeses. We picked up some Comte, Emmental, Camembert, Crotins de chèvre and some Brie. The experience of the market reminded me of the Quincy market. It had a similar feel to it. We then took a beautiful walk to the park to set up for our delicious meal. It was fun! After eating in the park, we all waited for our tour of Palais des Papes or the Palace of Popes. The palace was built with many features different from any other palace before. The architecture of it was incredible. Many of the walls had been designed with vibrant colors to catch the eye. The palace was home to many Popes. It is in the shape of two enclosed, awkward squares. Many of us were confused because the original pictures of the palace looked nothing like the current one. It was more astonishing that way. After the inside tour, we were able to take a view from the rooftop. It was amazing! We loved it and it was the highlight of many students in our group.

After our visit, we took an hour long bus ride to Aix en Provence and there we checked our bags at the hotel. The hotel was different than every other hotel I’ve been to because there is a very small lounge on the first floor and the second floor is where you check in. About 45 minutes after we arrived, we walked down the street to a French restaurant and ate there. At this restaurant there was a fixed menu, where we received a salad first, then there was pasta with some beef and finally there was sorbet. After our meal, we went back to the hotel room to go to bed.

March 18, 2019

We woke up early and walked 30 minutes to Paul Cezanne’s painting studio. There, we received a lecture on the history of the place itself, Cezanne, and his paintings. This lecture was entirely in French, with Ms. Aldins clarifying a few things. Since we had learned about Cezanne previously, it was a lot easier to understand the presentation. It was awesome to see something that we learned about came to real life. I had studied the painting named “Les joueurs de cartes” or The Card Players in English. I had presented on this topic in class and seeing the women pressing on the painting in French was satisfying for me to know that my research applied to the real world.

Looking forward to more adventures. Stay tuned!

À bientôt!

Will, Maya, Ralph

March 18, 2019 (continued)

A glimpse of yesterday… a celebration of today…

On Monday, we went to see the historic aqueduct, Pont du Gard, in Nîmes. It was fascinating to see something that the Romans built hundreds and hundreds of years ago; the Pont du Gard was ginormous, even more than I thought it would be. At first we had a snack of croissants and pains au chocolat, which was delicious. Then, we all had some time to go around and explore the site on our own. Many of us went down to the river that went through the aqueduct and climbed over the rocks and sat by the beautiful water. This was very relaxing for us, and let us enjoy the exquisite place.  The water was teal in some places and a dark, mysterious blue in others. This aqueduct surprisingly was built with no nails, no machines, and just by balance. Although it is not currently used anymore, it was used as a bridge for many years as well. It was without a doubt worth the long bus ride to see Pont du Gard.

March 19, 2019
We had a wonderful experience this morning. We walked around Aix en Provence and experienced the open market in Cours Mirabeau. We bought great merchandise including fresh fruit, sunglasses, sweaters, and other items. While walking around, we got to smell a diverse set of traditional food (saucissons, jambons, calissons -a local pastry-) as well as some food we see and smell everyday in Boston. On our trip, we also saw a goat and a pig. We were so happy when petting and interacting with them. Meeting the goat was a great preview for the goat farm that occurred later that day. Wandering the streets of Aix was a great way to understand how the environment of Provence really feels like during the morning. I was really excited that after I went shopping I could compare the experience of shopping in America and France. In France it is less formal when shopping especially during market hours because it is big and open. Also in France shops are closed two days a week and sometimes open much later than American shops. Going to the markets in Aix is an experience I will always remember.

After some informative homestay orientation activities, we walked a short distance to the “Atelier des Chefs,” a cooking workshop where we met the professional chef and began making a delicious meal. I was especially excited for this activity because I love to cook and want to learn new recipes to try at home. We started off the cooking class by making mashed potatoes. We first cut up the potatoes into small chunks, and then put them all into a pot to begin boiling. After putting the potatoes in the boiling pot, we began making the chicken. First, we took raw chicken, cut it in half, and seasoned it with salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Next, we folded the chicken back up, placed it on a plastic film sheet, and rolled it up into a small, sausage-like shape. Lastly, we put the rolled up chicken into a pot and began boiling them as well. Once the chicken was cooked, we took the potatoes off of the burner, and started mashing them up. We then seasoned them with lots of salt, as well as some fresh butter and cream. Next we each got a plate, put a large chunk of potatoes on, and then decorated the plates with a balsamic vinaigrette. Finally, we cut our chicken into two halves and put it on top of our mashed potatoes. Our plates were complete! The lunch tasted just as good as it looked. The chicken was perfectly seasoned and cooked, and the potatoes were salty and creamy, and really rounded out the whole meal. After eating our dishes, we had a great raspberry dessert that the chefs had pre-made for us. It was a great ending to an awesome experience!
By Sam, Neel, and Caleb

March 19, 2019 (continued)
Yesterday afternoon, we took a 30 minute drive to visit La ferme du Bregalon which is a goat farm where cheeses are made. Upon arriving we immediately noticed many animals running around outside including a few cats, dogs, and chickens. Also, there was a really strong farm smell inside which took us a few minutes to get used to. Before seeing the goats the owner gave us a few quick facts about goats and milking in general. For example, we learned that their goats get milked 300 days out of the year and on milking days they get milked twice, once in the morning and once at night. We also learned that goats are pregnant for about five months and that most give birth in February. After the introduction we went into the barn to see the milking machine and pet the goats. We learned that it takes a while to milk the goats because each milking takes about one hour. Finally, we got to pet some baby goats! The goats fur was very soft and they seemed to be really excited to have some visitors. Once we were all done petting the goats we got to try some cheese and grape juice. We got a chance to try some cheese from that day, and some cheese that had been made last week, it was really good! Then, we went outside and had some grape juice. The grape juice was homemade and all natural! It tasted different from the US because it tasted more natural as there was no added sugar, so it actually tasted like grapes. Overall, this experience was really good for us because we were able we to see the rural part of the Provence region and its spectacular scenery.

Leaving at approximately 7:15 pm, all four separate groups combine together for a stroll to a Moroccan cuisine, named Le Riad. The walk, quite short in length, took several minutes due to the large number of obstacles including a stuck garbage truck, several motorcycles we had to dodge, and several pedestrians. Finally eluding the obstacles, our group arrived at a small looking restaurant situated at a crossing. When our group had finally congregated outside the restaurant, we walked in, surprised by the large amount of space inside. We walked respectfully towards the end of the restaurant wary and respectful of the culture and beliefs  of others. When we finally met a restaurant employee, we were then guided to a small private secluded tent in the courtyard of the restaurant. The tent, made in Moroccan style fabric, boasted three tables and a roof in case it rained. The tent blocked out all light except for a few lamps illuminating the whole tent. The tent was a new experience to me. I had never ate in a tent with Moroccan designs and found the designs spectacular. The patterns, intertwined together, blended with the light to create astounding images. After finishing admiring the tent designs, we chose a seat, keeping in mind the new recommendation, that we should invite all genders to the table, our teachers had made for us. When we sat down, each table proceeded to play a card game of their liking.

Our table chose to play “BS” while we decided what we wanted to eat and waited to order. All the tables were laughing, and students and teachers were discussing the trip and the restaurant. Not many people had eaten in a Moroccan style tent before or tried Moroccan food, so not many people had an idea of what we would eat besides the brief description of the dishes that we were given by our Global Works guides, Camille and Somer. Within a few minutes of sitting down, we were brought a bowl of chickpeas to share as an appetizer. They were spiced with different flavors and served with toothpicks to use as utensils. I had only had chickpeas in hummus before, and eating them plain was very different especially because they were flavored differently. Though not everyone enjoyed the chickpeas, most everyone at least tried them, some even believing they did not like chickpeas and then changing their mind after the experience. Soon after that our waiter came over and took our orders. We were given the choice between lamb or chicken couscous and lamb or chicken tajine. Tajine is a fruit stew with meat made in tall clay pots that are consistently wetted at the top while cooking. I ordered the chicken couscous, which was delicious. The couscous dishes came with the meat in portions for two with a large bowl of couscous and couscous sauce placed on the table for everyone to share. The tajine came in smaller clay pots, similar to the ones used for cooking. It was really fun to share the dishes at dinner because it created a better sense of community because we were sharing the experiences more, rather than having our own dishes. We all ate the same or similar things and we tried something new together.

One of the things that Morocco is most well known for is tea. After the tables were finished with their main courses the waiter brought over some house made tea for everyone. It was served in small glasses and honey colored. The tea was, sweet, bitter and minty. I did not love it because it was too bitter for me, but others even had second helpings. While we were sipping our tea, the restaurant brought out some traditional Moroccan pastries and treats for dessert. The pastries were similar to choux pastries but more almond flavored. Their were also some jellies, that tasted like fruit-flavored marshmallows. I thought they were delicious. The restaurant took great pride in their dishes, especially the tea. When a few of the student were walking back restroom, two of the waiters were playfully arguing over who made the tea. Both wanted credit for making the dish they were so proud of. They were very friendly and patient with us when we had trouble speaking French, even though we were such large group and must have been difficult to serve. Overall, the dinner was amazing and new for me, and many others in our group. I think we all walked out of there not just have having had a meal, but a whole experience, and felt more than satisfied.
By Ben, Ethan, Annabelle

March 20, 2019
When we arrived in Carcassonne, we walked over to the old city for a picnic lunch. We sat on the grass and benches in the shade of the walls as we chatted with our friends and ate the sandwiches, quiches, and pizzas we had bought at the rest stop. After our picnic lunch, we gathered around Camille and Somer to hear the story of Lady Carcass and her incredible defense of the city of Carcassonne. It was really cool to learn how this impressive city withstood a six-year-long siege and eventually got its name. When we finished with the story, we stepped into the old city, marveling was at the candy and souvenir shops we passed as we made our way to the castle. Upon our arrival at the castle, we had to say goodbye to Madame Diop and Audrey because the wheelchair couldn’t go up and down the many sets of stairs. We then embarked on a brief tour of the castle. We wandered through the many towers, bridges, and staircases of the castle, taking time to photograph the architecture and artifacts display along the way.
By Avery

When we finished our scavenger hunt, we got on a bus to drive to the place where we would meet our host families. We drove for about 20 minutes until we got to the place. Everyone was kind of nervous, so they were jumping around a lot and had a lot of energy. When we arrived, we walked into this garden place with a room behind it. There were a few families there, but most people were still waiting. It was a potluck, so there was a lot of food to eat, but it was not our dinner. Families kept arriving, and some stayed while others left quickly. We all milled around awkwardly, talking about how nervous we were. Eventually, all of the families arrived and everyone started to leave. Avery and I went to the car with our host family. On our way to their house, we stopped at the market. It was similar to a grocery store in the US, except it had different brands. We drove to our house and we pulled into the gate. There was a dog waiting in the yard to greet us. There were also two cats and turtle that we met later. After attempting to discuss music in French, we had a dinner of pasta with eggs along with some sausage and pâté. We showered and journaled before finally settling down to read and finally sleep.
By Molly

We woke up bright and early around 7:15 am to get ready for the day. Today, we were to meet our host families! You could feel the excitement and anticipation rising in everyone. But, there was one thing lying in our way. A three hour bus ride from Aix-en-Provence to Carcassonne. Not everyone was excited. After breakfast, we piled on to the bus, preparing ourselves for the long period of time just sitting. We started to roll away from our hotel, saying goodbye to Aix-en-Provence, where we have spent the past three nights. The following three hours consisted of many people falling asleep, listening to music, and socializing. Many of us had most likely expected the long bus ride to be boring, but it was interesting to see the scenery change and to reflect on the experiences we had already had. After about two hours on the bus, we parked at a French rest stop for a bathroom break and to buy food/snacks. It was intriguing to see the differences it had from one back at home. For example, there were waffles, fresh bread, and croissants in contrast to the chips and soda in American gas stations. We visited Paul, a small bakery, and each of us ordered something to eat for our lunch picnic in Carcassonne. Then, we had another one and a half hours to look forward to on the bus. I personally spent this time journaling and singing with my friends. Before we knew it, the castle of Carcassonne was visible over the treetops and hills.

By Audrey

March 21, 2019

After a great nights sleep, we woke up bright and early in our host family’s house for the first time. We got up and walked downstairs for our first breakfast with our new families. We ate multiple chocolate croissants, kiwis, and each had a few glasses of orange juice. We made sure to dress comfortably and pack our gardening gloves because we would be doing service work today. As we drove to the local high school which was our meeting place, I noticed the beautiful mountains, trees, and small villages that surrounded Carcassonne. We were even able to see “La Frontier” the mountain range that separates France and Spain. Once we arrived, everyone was eager to share their experiences from the night before, what their host families were like, what they had for dinner, and what they did before bed. We said goodbye to our host families and boarded the bus to a local farm where we would be doing service work. After a forty minute drive through the beautiful landscape we got off the bus and got prepared. Right before we were going to start, we saw about 100 French children walking towards us. We were all surprised but our chaperones took the lead and paired each of us up with some other kids. We did our best to communicate, and after some mistakes and laughter we got to know them. We then walked over to the run down stone wall that lined the path. We got to work pulling out the leaves and thorns that were twisted around the stones. Even with our protective gloves I think all of us came out of the experience with some cuts and bruises. It was a little harder than all of us had expected and by the time we were finished we were all starving and ready for lunch, but there was still more to do. We got to work planting trees along the wall and we all worried together to dig out the holes and then fill them up with soil. When we had finished we all quickly walked over to the lunches that our host families had generously packed for us.

March 21, 2019 (continued) 

After we finished helping clear the pathway, we met up as a group. We were told we were going to go visit a bridge that was just built. Global Works groups have been building it for the past few years, and we were excited to see all of their hard work finally pay off. We walked along the pathway, chatting among ourselves as we went, for about ten minutes. We were pleasantly surprised to see that the village had thrown a celebration for the opening of the bridge! Music from the band echoed through the trees, and the smell of freshly baked goods filled our senses with joy. People were simply enjoying themselves and celebrating their we looked at the people in awe, a few organizers and local officials spoke. They said they were grateful for all of our work and Global Works help. We were just about to leave when Fatmata was chosen to cut the ribbon, and officially open the bridge. Everyone got out their cameras as Fatmata and a man carefully untied the ribbon together. We cheered loudly and we on our way back.

When we returned, we all took out the lunches that our home stays had packed for us. We talked to each other and enjoyed the French cuisine. It was a nice time to reflect on the day and think about what we could bring to the group for the rest of it. After lunch, we could either write in our journals or draw. It was interesting to be able to create an image of what we had been seeing and experiencing, instead of just writing it down.
Ellie H.

After lunch, we had extra time because the plans had changed because the French consider things organized in a different way than us. While the teachers discussed the plan, we figured out a way to entertain ourselves. We played games as a group, did piggy back races, and had a little water fight. It was a really fun, unstructured time for everyone to be included, and most of the games ended in us falling on the ground laughing.

The teachers concluded that we would walk down the path to a very small town and wander around there, as well as find the post office so people could get stamps. We arrived in the town, and our chaperone led us through the winding maze of streets to a the post office, were we retrieved our stamps and enjoyed the beautiful weather. We got lost a few times on our way back, but we got to see the colorful shutters, doors, and buildings in the town and the stunning views from the top of a hill. We eventually got back to the bus and then went home to spend another evening with our host families.
By Rebecca

March 22, 2019

Starting right in the morning, we traveled to a local French middle school named Antoine Couriere. The students welcomed us wholeheartedly, and with them we did various activities. First we played a game that allowed us to easily learn many of the students’ names. We also asked them other things, like what music they listened to and what sports we all played. It also helped strengthen our French by forcing us to utilize our conversation abilities ask their names in French. Many of us became friends very quickly and we learned a lot about the students we talked to. After that bonding experience, we got together with a new group and played games. The first game we played was “Guess who”. French students and American students would rotate dressing up as a character from each other’s country history or pop culture. However, the description of that character was in the opposite language of that student’s country, encouraging students of opposite countries to respond. We moved to “Guess that song”.  About 3 French students and 3 American students had to guess the name and artist of a song that was either French or English, making us work together to get the highest score. After that, we went outside for recess and talked to many students. There was also an exchange of phone numbers between us and the French students. After recess, we went to lunch. Lunch was very interesting for us and really illustrated how French students had lunch. It is much longer! The cafeteria worked very much like one in the U.S., where students get their food in a line, then sit down and eat. When we were done with lunch, we went outside once more and made long lasting relationships. Sadly after 45 minutes, we had to leave, but the experience gave us a good look at what school was like for French kids.

By Matthew and Shahin

On Thursday afternoon, we visited a paper mill called Moulin a Papier. When we first entered the paper mill, we were instantly drawn to the complex water system which was built around the local stream. Inside the Mill, we saw a vast variety of paper made decorations. Some of them included dresses, paintings, and papyrus. When the tour began, we learned about how two different ways to make paper. The first way was using animal hide which was called parchemin, and the second way was using papyrus using a reed type plant from Egypt that when boiled in water, it would come together and form paper. The next part of the tour showed us how left over clothes can be used to make paper or dye paper. We got to see a piece of papyrus paper that was dyed blue from old jeans. At the end of the tour we finally got to make our own paper. The tour guide got old linen that was bailed and mashed into small pieces. She then dumped it in the water for us so that we can craft our paper. She showed us that we had to place a filter under the water and raise up to try. Everyone got a turn and did it right the first time. At the end we could say with satisfaction that we made our own paper.
By Isaiah and Omar

March 23, 2019

We took a two hour bus ride to Collioure. At town 45 minutes off the northeastern border of France and Spain. On the bus we played many rounds of cards, listened to music, took naps, journaled, drew, pointed out cool things out the window, and talked about life. Over the course of the trip we all have taken a liking to the bus rides. They serve as times to rest, reflect, play games, chat, and give us a break between the many activities that we have been doing all trip.
We arrived a little before noon we spent some time lounging on the beach, playing football, reading, eating, and dipping our toes in the water. After a while some people went out to go shopping for more gifts and French knickknacks. We walked around enjoying the French scenery. At around 2:00 we went out for dessert. The options we between waffles, crepes, frappes, and ice cream, and you could get a drink with that as well. There were endless options of ice cream (which many of us got) some examples are mint chip, chocolate, vanilla, smurf, and salted  caramel. Many people also have sugar or chocolate waffles, while others had crepes with Nutella, bananas, sugar or other variations.
By Fatmata

The beach was not huge but had enough room to run around and explore. Surrounding the beach was a few restaurants and of course the large castle in the distance. As soon as we arrived a group of the boys started a game of football. We then laid our towels down and put up a few umbrellas. Some people stayed in the shade and enjoyed the view and others walked down to the water and put their feet in. The water was cold, but the stones and sand on the walk to the water were painful, so the water felt good. After exploring the beach we went back to our area of towels and started to eat lunch. The picnic lunch was packed by our host families and so we all had an assortment of foods. We shared and tried new things. It was all very good. After eating, we talked under the shade of the umbrellas and a few people waded or took pictures by the water. The beach was very warm, beautiful, and being there was an extremely fun activity.
By Sarah

Collioure is a beautiful little town on the Mediterranean Sea. When we got there, the first thing we did was go to the beach, but my favorite part was walking around the little town. All the houses and stores were painted beautiful colors, mostly pastel. Most streets had a combination of souvenir shops, cafés, and other small businesses, but some were dedicated to specific things such as art galleries. We went into a small jewelry shop to get bracelets for Camille and Somer, the Global Works leaders on the trip. The weather made the experience for us even better. It was very sunny and hot, but perfect in the shade. Because it’s still the off season, the streets and beach weren’t packed, which allowed us to have space as we explored the city. The shops in Collioure were one of my favorite parts of the entire trip, and I hope to see them again.
By Ginny

Final Blog 

What a delight it is for us to share this adventure with our students and witness them create their narratives. After months of preparations and anticipation, alas we are here, bathing in the beauty of the Provence region. The landscape is breathtaking and every accent of light radiates its own color and texture. We are indeed surrounded by the perfection of nature. “C’est beau!” “Look!” “It’s amazing!” Such are the comments we hear from our students. A deep and true appreciation for the scenery and the experiences they are making. They are going through the journey of engaging with a different culture while reflecting on their own. The students have bonded by breaking bread and “breaking cards.” Wherever we have been, students have created pockets of connections and laughters through playing cards. We have witnessed them circle up, decide on a game,  argue on the directions and strategize the best ways to win while giggling. Despite the tiredness at times, the candy crisis, and the warm weather- we won’t complain about given the snow that may await us, our hearts are full-filled. It has truly been beautiful working with our students and seeing them overcome fears and anxieties and develop the courage and self confidence to immerse their whole beings in this journey.

We thank our partners at Global Works. We are grateful for Somer and Camille who have provided us with warmth, sunshine, organization, and a great deal of gentleness, appreciation, and care for our students. Thank you to both! We look forward to sharing more adventures with you.

With warmth and much gratitude for your support to everyone involved in making this happens. As the saying goes, it takes a village… full of caring hearts.

By Dana, Liga, Awa