Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Whitley French Students Visit Partner School in Lille

On the 31st March, Whitley French students visited our partner school, 'Collège Jean-Mermoz’, in Lille, France.  

Students arrived at school during the Easter holidays bright and early on the morning of the 31st March with one exception, Mr Chauhan, who had stopped off for a McDonald’s breakfast en route – first forfeit for him!

The first day was relaxed with service station stops and excellent behaviour demonstrated from all of our students – a real credit to the school. The evening meal went down well with the pupils in the hotel – sausage rolls, chicken, chips and doughnuts (well, not all at the same time!)

Early the following morning, we travelled to our partner school to begin our day in a French school  - after a very warm welcome which included some amusing drama sketches prepared by the French students, there was a fact finding hunt around the school based on the French tradition of ‘Poisson d’avril – April Fool’s Day’.  

Gifts exchanged, it was time for lunch, a menu prepared especially for their English visitors…much to Louie’s delight, more chicken! The afternoon was dedicated to three group lessons taking part in lessons learning and discussing the Paris attacks, Eco-Schools and designing their ideal school after a quiz to learn about the differences between our two schools.  In the bright Lille sunshine, some of the students played a mini basketball tournament in the afternoon before we headed off to eat in Lille and to allow students some free time to explore the main square of the city before dinner.

Saturday kicked off with a guided tour around Lille before the students and teachers were given some free time to explore the sights further by themselves, do some shopping and/or taste the delights of French cuisine, and of course to locate JD Sports, Footlocker and Chloe Spencer’s personal favourite – Sephora!

On Sunday, the pupils experienced a truly typical French morning by visiting one of the largest outdoor markets in Europe, at Wazemmes in Lille where much chocolate and bargains were purchased (and consumed..)! We then set off to pay respects at two cemeteries along the coast of France and Belgium to commemorate the First World War.  We paid our respects by reading poems together and laying a wreath where many British soldiers were buried at the cemetery of Ballieul Road West. 

The second monument was the Canadian memorial at ‘Crête-de-Vimy’; this was an incredible sight, and largely untouched by the Germans in the Second World War due to Hitler having fought there in the First World War. The scarred landscape from the perpetual bombing and explosions is now covered with thousands of pine trees planted to honour the Canadian soldiers - one for every life lost and new trees planted every time one dies to ensure every soldier whose name is etched around the base of the monument is remembered.  So many lives in fact that the French donated the portion of land in front of the memorial to Canada - so our students can even say they have visited part of Canada too on this trip!

The pupils further visited Arras, a beautiful city influenced by ‘Flemish (Belgian)’ architecture and with some wonderful buildings which glowed in the fantastic spring sun which we were treated to on the Sunday. On the evening, we held a presentation ceremony and rewarded all of the hard efforts and excellent behaviour, as well as the support the pupils had demonstrated for eachother throughout the trip.

On Monday we headed home but not before a quick stop to stock up on souvenirs and of course…more chocolate and sweets to bring back for friends and family!

A truly memorable French experience for everyone, we would like to extend our gratitude to our partner school teachers and students for their kindness and efforts, which made our visit educational, interesting and fun.