PARIS—All is well in the City of Light…

Hi parents and friends,

Of course by now you’ve heard about the senseless tragedy in Nice, and though we, too, are affected, please be content knowing that your sons and daughters are safe! We will not let those who instil fear and chaos take command of our journey. While our firework celebration was cut short last night when some local idiot lit a flare and spooked some people in our section, the crew handled the situation with poise and a maturity well beyond their years. Everyone immediately looked after each other and that was wonderful to witness! One of our principals of Continuing Ed, Nicole Patriquin, was with us and was impressed with the crew’s care and consideration for one another.

IMG_1940While flags fly at half mast around the city, this morning we went out to celebrate French culture, art, and their joie de vivre at our favourite museum in the city, the Musee d’Orsay. Students learned how to look at (and hopefully appreciate) art and took some time to explore the world’s best collection of 19th century art, including pieces by Monet, Manet, Ingres, and Van Gogh. The writing task was to practice with their newly honed creative writing skill of ‘show me, don’t tell me’ (learned at the Luxembourg Gardens yesterday evening) as they reacted to and reflected on a piece of art of their choice. Some were struck by the Orientalist works, while others the Impressionists. Many wrote with a cafe latte in hand, overlooking Paris through the silhouette of a gigantic clock.

IMG_1743This afternoon the crew is finishing up an assignment from the Imperial War Museum before we reconvene in our neighbourhood at the Pantheon, the resting place of many of France’s greatest citizens including Alexander Dumas, Marie Curie, and Voltaire. We’ll finish our discussions of the Age of Reason as we circle Foucault’s pendulum, before segueing into the Enlightenment era when we descend into the crypt where the French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau is laid to rest.

Please enjoy some of the ‘show me, don’t tell me’ excerpts the students wrote yesterday evening about life in Paris. They worked hard to vary the kinds of sentences they used (simple, compound, complex, and compound complex) as the ultimate aim was to transplant the reader or listener into what they were describing. Many realized that writing well doesn’t come naturally (“this is SO hard!!!”) and it’s something that takes effort and practice:

IMG_1909The summer gale sways the luscious grass from side to side, whilst it glistens under the sun. The grass releases a crisp smell. As the vibrant hues of green shimmer in the rays of sunlight, the smell of pollen floats from the flower to my nose, and the sound of the sizzling deep fryer massages my eardrums. The pond glistens and the fountain gently dances… – Matt, Marcus, Julie, and Quinn

The bright colours on display are emblematic of the human soul. The soft whiz in the distance, the majestic lights in the sky – expelling darkness with life. The fireworks take our breath away as we sit here on Bastille Day. – Seb, Zach, and Will

IMG_1869As my hand caresses the rough cobblestone of the ancient structure, the stench of cigarettes wanders. Railings hug intricate walls and my eyes dance from window to window; the sounds of nearby chatter surround me. – Natasha, Ben, and Emma F.

When I stretched my hands into the water, my fingertips tingled. The murky pond water turned my hands an ice blue. I quickly retreated my arm as shivers shot down my spine. I threw my hand back into my glove… – Kara, Sophie, and Mackenzie

Not bad!

’til tomorrow, bonne soirée!

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