It's Happening: Traveling Across the Pond with French Students of Bridgeport High

By Julie Perine on June 23, 2019 from It’s Happening via Connect-Bridgeport.com

You won’t be reading many of my stories here on Connect-Bridgeport for the next week and a half or so. By the time you read this blog, I will be exploring the streets of Paris, where I will stay for three days before venturing on to Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Oslo – the capital cities of the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway, respectively. I’ll be traveling with 38 others, including 35 Bridgeport High School students. This educational excursion takes place every other year and is spearheaded by Madame Deanna Garrett, the BHS French teacher.
 
Dea delights in giving these students this life-changing experience. I believe this is her fifth trip abroad with students. Some who took those early trips have gone on to become avid world travelers; some jetting across the ocean all by themselves to take in as much sight-seeing and culture as time and their pocketbooks allow.
 
The trip is about emerging in other cultures and my girl particularly shines when she shows her students the landmarks of Paris, which they have learned about in the classroom. I’ve been with these kids before when – for the very first time – they lay their eyes on the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre Museum, the Pantheon and many others, including her favorite - Sacre’-Coeur. They light up just like the Eiffel Tower at night. It’s exciting to see them see these places they have heard so much about.
 
The trip is facilitated by EF International Tours. One of the company tour guides will travel Europe with us, where we will take part in many tours, enabling those history lessons learned in the classroom to come to life.  
Madame also loves seeing her students use the French language to interact with those they come across on their travels. It’s one thing knowing the dialect, but quite another to utilize it in communication.
 
And learning what makes other countries tick is always interesting; little tidbits like how environmentally conscious the Europeans are and how some businesses shut down at lunchtime, so everyone can refresh and rest for the afternoon.
 
Taking in the visuals of the tedious architecture lends appreciation to detail and a passion to construct and preserve such beautiful landmarks. 
 
It’s a growing experience for sure and as in other areas of life, the journey is just as valuable as the destination. Kids learn to navigate travel systems – including the European metro. They learn the value of other currencies and the expected change from their euros, crowns or francs. And they learn a little bit about being independent, being on time for buses and at meeting places. They try new foods and stay in rooms with kids beyond their usual friend circles.
 
These students learn that there’s a big world out there, but that it’s not so hard to get to anywhere they want to see and experience. Some are inspired to seek fields of study and careers and whether or not that is related to travel or foreign language, they gain some self-confidence that they can do whatever they put their mind to.
Each time I run into a student who went on the last trip I did, they talk about things that happened and there’s always a smile on their faces.
 
For this trip, students and their parents have attended meetings, done much preparing, packing and purchasing and put a lot of time, thought and dollars into these next 11 days. The end result will, indeed, be priceless to dozens of BHS students and their futures.
 
Au revoir!
 
P.S. This is somewhat of a family vacation for me, too. Madame Deanna Garrett happens to be my daughter. 



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