Day 4: PARIS—Gaining New Perspective
Phew! Another day has come and gone in Paris but it feels like we’ve been here forever. We started our day with a slow morning yoga routine, stretching out those tight hips, shoulders and calves from the flight and our half-day of walking. Working out before the city has begun its hustle and bustle of the day, and watching the sunrise beyond the Pont Alexandre III in the distance could not be a better way to wake up our minds and bodies.
Walking along the left bank of the Seine, it’s hard not to be amazed at how grand the buildings are. The Louvre stretches for what seems like miles, Notre Dame stands graceful and tall, and the Grand Palais shines brightly in the distance, the sun glinting off its glass roof.
“Standing in these massive structures really gives you a perspective on how small we are” – Mack A.
Before jumping into our first official Modern History lecture, Scott introduced an important part of the MEI ethos: morning note. A big part of MEI is connecting what we learn with who we are, so for 30 minutes, students are to write 900 words in response to a series of questions, usually connected to the lecture for that day. Today, students were asked to reflect on what their expectations are for the trip, what qualities and skills they bring to the group, and what quality they hope shines through enough for others to notice. It’s not an easy task to write uninterrupted for that long, but our crew delved right into it.
As a lead in to the lecture on the Reformation that will take place tomorrow, Scott and Simon reviewed the Renaissance, and the incredible power of the Catholic Church in Europe. We met up in the late afternoon at the Musée d’Orsay for our very first English lesson on short story writing. We introduced the idea of “show me, don’t tell me” when describing the setting, and the characters. There’s only so much real estate in a short story, so we’ve got to make every word count.
We partook in the Parisian pastime of people watching to practice describing characters, and attempted to “set the scene” of the d’Orsay using a variety of genres. Somehow, Emma J, Kalista M. and Emma H. were able to make the d’Orsay the perfect setting for a Western… Once an old train station, the d’Orsay is now home to impressionist artists such as Manet, Renoir, Monet and Van Gogh, just to name a few. Their task in the museum was to find an interesting work of art (there’s so many, it wasn’t that hard) and begin writing a short story. We wanted them to practice enticing their reader and establishing the “reason to continue” reading the story. The teachers definitely look forward to hearing them at our first podcast!
Breaking off into their Paris research assignment groups, we had small family dinners to discuss the progress of these major (upcoming!) presentations. In groups of about four, students will regale us with stories and details about the First, Second and Third Estates in France during the French Revolution, using locales such as Notre Dame, Mouffetard Markets, Palais Royale and Versailles. They have been working so hard over the last few days to bring that presentation together, and we think they will wow us teachers with their expertise.
Tomorrow, we begin our day with yoga and an introduction to martial arts (!), before doing morning note and a lecture on the Reformation. Our first Paris presentations will take place right after our two history lectures, and we’ve slotted in dedicated work-time for their Louvre podcast assignment. In between all of that, I’m sure Jesse will finally get those macarons she’s been craving. Who knows what else Paris will have in store for us?! It’s bound to be as “awe-inspiring” as Kalista M. has experienced thus far.
Alas, we must head to sleep as another incredible day awaits. À bientôt!