Monday, September 15, 2008

Lots of Photos


We've been back for a week now and I have had a lot of fun going through my photos.  I am putting together a hard bound photo journal for my travel reflection and it is turning out nicely.  If anyone has photos of me I would like to include them because I didn't have photos taken of me with my camera that came out.

Hope you are having a fabulous rest of summer break!  Here are a lot of photos from the trip:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Reading? Yes, we're reading too!

After a day of rest on Sunday, the group was back at it with a more traditional activity--classroom discussion of our readings. Yes, we're in Paris, but the students have done a lot of reading in preparation for the trip and we need to discuss it in conjunction with all of our excursions.

On Monday, we discussed Azouz Begag's novel Shantytown Kid and his nonfiction analysis of race in France, Ethnicity and Equality. By comparing the two texts, the students made some excellent observations, including:

  • When immigrant kids, or the children of immigrants, are told that everyone in France is a descendent of the Gauls, they are confused. They don't look like the Gauls and they don't feel a part of that history. As a result, they often identify with their family's country of origin and their religion. This process of identification places them in opposition to mainstream French culture which resists discussions of race and ethnicity in favor of the unifying values of the Republic.

  • When Begag's family moves from the shantytown to an apartment the results are paradoxical. On the one hand, they are "fitting in" with French culture and progressing by living in an apartment complex. On the other hand, they feel cut off from their friends and family, who they use to see and live with every day in the shantytown. The children feel isolated from the other kids in the apartment complex and sit inside. As something is gained, something is lost.

  • The challenge of being an immigrant is a splitting of the self into many parts; parts that identify with the country of origin and parts that try to fit into the new country.

Great work, everyone!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Service Learning and Versailles!

Greetings from Paris!

On Friday our group once again helped to provide lunch for some folks at the American Cathedral in Paris. The other volunteers and diners were excited to see us back again. Interestingly, two of the other volunteers have Seattle roots. One of the volunteers graduated from Nathan Hale High School and the other raised a family in Spokane for years. They were impressed to see Shoreline students in Paris!

Some of the group also returned to the Louvre on Friday night to take advantage of the free entry for those under 26 years old on Friday night. They just needed more of the aesthetic power of the Louvre's enormous collection.

Today, the group spent a long and warm day at Versailles. The 18th century palace provides an overwhelming example of 18th century power, money, and art. Quite a change from the day before! We were fortunate enough to see one of the fountains on display, but the day was long and the group did a lot of walking. Tomorrow, a day of rest--which everyone needs!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Getting a Local and Global Perspective

On Wednesday, our group had the unique opportunity to meet with a local expert on French immigration law and immigration issues. Jean Taquet was born in France, married an American, and has lived in the States and in France. He offers free legal help for any newcomers to France on a weekly basis. He shared with us his work, his perspectives on French immigration law, and views of diversity in France. We discussed the practical realities of being an immigrant in France, the aftermath of the riots in 2005 and 2006, and the recent headscarf controversy. His views were challenging, informed, and different than those we have been reading and discussing.

If you are interested in hearing more about Jean and his work, here's his website:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Loire Valley and the city of Tours

On Saturday, we took a tour of two chateaux and Clos Luce, Da Vinci's home for the last three years of his life. The tour started in Chenonceau (far left), the famous "chateaux of the six women." The medieval castle was almost completely raised before being redesigned according to Italian Renaissance style. Then we moved on to Clos Luce (top of the post) and the magnificent Da Vinci. The museum provides insight into Da Vinci's relationship with Francoise I, the Renaissance King, who brought him to France. Da Vinci's lifestyle is reflected in the living quarters and furniture. Many displays, inside and out, depict many of the inventor/artist/scientist's plans and ideas. Then, a short walk and we were inside the famous Amboise (far right). Amboise maintains more of a medieval castle style and was for many centuries the primary home of the French royalty (prior to the Paris palaces and Versailles).

The city of Tours was a lively place for dinner on Saturday night and the many college students and tourists in the area flow into the main medieval square, Place Plumereau.

We're back in Paris now and will go to the famous and amazing Louvre on Monday.