On Tuesday May 10, 2016 we started the day early as we took the ferry from Saint Malo to the channel island of Jersey. In our experiences a field trip usually consisted of getting on a school bus and having a very long ride. In Saint Malo they think nothing of using ferries. Just seeing the ferry and getting on it was an adventure for us. The Ferry's were huge and the student’s take all of this is stride and were really well behaved.
On our way to Jersey we had French lessons using pictures the students had drawn. We had fun and they realized we had just as hard of time with French as they have with English. We learned several new words and many of the students wanted their picture taken with us.
Our goal this day is to visit the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and then do a little shopping in the city. On our way to our first stop the rain started and the weather in France is like in the United States. That day we checked the weather and had zero chance of rain, so it poured. Well they have enough rain that they do not cancel events and we continued on. The weather even let up enough to have our picnic lunch in the commons area. The Zoo was very nice and well maintained.
When Stephanie first mentioned a little shopping with two classes of 6th graders or about 50 students I thought "WOW". Well Stephanie knew exactly what she was doing and before turning the students loose she showed them the perimeters of where they could shop and then what time we were to meet at the fountain. The plan worked perfect and everyone was on time.
The weather started changing on our way back to the Ferry terminal, as the fog was moving in. Mind you we had left Saint Malo at seven in the morning and it was now about five in the evening, it had been a long day. An announcement was heard in English and in French saying the captain of the boat will not enter the harbor due to fog and he is going to wait and see what happens. I looked around the terminal and it seemed as if there were about 500 students and adults waiting to get on the ferry. There were many schools on a field trip and I thought this is going to get interesting. Everyone continued on talking and sharing experiences of the day and no one seemed to upset. After about an hour an announcement was heard that the ferry was docking and I believe I heard an audible sigh of relief from all of the teachers and helpers as we began boarding.
On Wednesday we took a charter bus to Mont Saint Michel and I will admit I knew nothing of what we were about to see. As I mentioned in an early blog, age of buildings is not that big of deal in Europe. Saint Michel is built on an island and is from the top buildings, God, the abbey and monastery, and below the great halls, then stores and housing, and at the bottom outside the walls, houses for fisherman and farmers. People still live at the Abbey and children go to school in town. There is a walking bridge to the island so that when the tide is in the island is still accessible. This is probably the oldest and still in use buildings we have seen and been able to experience. The students were given the challenge of a scavenger hunt and we were all broken into groups. The scavenger hunt helped all of to learn more about Mont Saint Michel and to climb and go down about a million steps. There are no pictures that do this place justice on how large it is, and how in the world it was built. As we walked on the cobblestones and all of the stairs it was hard to imagine the backbreaking labor that made all off this possible and how the buildings have stood up to time and millions of visitors.
On all of field trips with the students were well behaved, eager to learn more, and inquisitive. The trips gave us a chance to visit with the children and for them to tell us more about themselves and their country. The school faculty and the pupils overwhelmed us with their generosity and kindness on these trips. We also realize how much our little stories, pictures, and postcards mean to the teachers and to these students, we went home with renewed vigor to do even more.
Part 1 Trucker Buddy International - France
We have found over the years that Trucker Buddy International is just as rewarding for us as it is for the students. Our trip was a trip of a lifetime and something we will never forget and I hope as these students grow up they will look back on their USA Trucker Buddies with fondness. Hopefully this was not our last trip to France and to see our classes as well as our dear friend, English teacher Stephanie and her family.
Learn more about Trucker Buddy International
As we left Saint Malo we were on the bridge of one of the Brittany Ferries headed for Portsmouth, England. The fog was horrendous and the bridge was full of tension that could be felt in the air. We were able to see a light house as we passed by, hear the captain get on a phone and tell two boats to "MOVE" really not sure what he said but in a moment two good sized boats passed on our port side. What an adventure and what a way to cross the "English Channel" or Channel as it is called in France.