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Students Laud Trip To Paris

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"Many of us considered the trip to Paris to be the most exciting thing that has ever happened to us - certainly none of us will ever forget it." This was an enthusiastic comment from David Glass, one ef the 102 Ann Arbor High School students who returned Sunday from a week-long trip to the capital city of France. The trip was sponsored by the French department of the high school as a cultural enrichment program. And, judging from the glowing reports of Glass and two fellow globetrotters, Peggy Hoyt and Jan Lowry, the jaunt was eminently worthwhile. Mrs. Francés Felback, the Board of Education's representative on the trip, also had words of high praise. "From my point of view, the trip was an unqualified success," she declared. "We couldn't have had better ambassadors than those kids," she added. "They were a magnificent, wonderful group of students and teachers whose enthusiasm never flagged." ! (The Board of Education approved the trip to Europe as a school-sponsored activity. Mrs. Felbeck accompanied the group to give her evaluation to the board- which must approve all future trips.) The 102 students, 10 chaperones and 32 other adults boarded an Air France chartered jet bound for Paris on March 30. They returned April 7. The cost of the trip wás $312, which covered nearly all expenses except incidentals and gifts. A number of tours were planned for the students, including a bus tour of Paris, v i s i t s to the opera, the Comedie Francaise, the place of Versailles, Fontainbleau, the Louvre museum, two "lycees" (the equivalent of an American high school) and a boat trip down the Seine River. But the students also had approximately three days to explore Paris on their own - a fact they appreciated. Glass observed, "For me, as for others, the' trip was. valuable because we often were free to discover Paris on our own . . . We had at least five evenings free, ate all but two lunches on our own. and had a few mornings and afternoons free, too. In order to see everything we wanted to,see and go everywhere we wanted to go, we all had to decide what was really important to us, manage our own time, and find our way around Paris. "This giving of free time," he continued, "... and the students' acceptance of the responsibility that carne with it, made the week in Paris a time in which we really saw and learned a lot." The opportunity to observe French culture first-hand was also considered invaluable by the students. "No amount of classroom instruction can teach a student the customs and show him the culture of a country like a visit there, even a short one," Glass said. "We not only saw the streets and sights of Paris as anyone can from pictures in a classroom," he added, "but we actually walked down the streets, went up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, touched the ancient gargbyles atop Notre Dame, watched and heard the French traffic, and most importantly, talked to the French people." From the feminine point of view, exposure to French culture inevitably meant a penchant for French fashions. In the words of Miss Lowry: "The longer we remained in France, the more we found ourselves slipping into French ways. By the end of the week, a lot of us had French clothes and string handbags, so we looked pretty French. We also found ourselves acting more French." Miss Lowry offered the opinión that she found most French people to be "very nice, very warm and very helpfuj." "On the whole, I was quite impressed with the warmth of the French and was glad to find the reports of 'snobbish French', for me, untrue." Miss Lowry also commented that she and the other students were well prepared for cultural differences as a result of weekly briefing sessions held before the students' departure. "I was so well prepared for differences," she remarked, "that I could hardly notice them. It became hard for me to teil what was French and what was American." Differences between French and American schools and their inhabitants were quite apparent to one observer, however - Peggy Hoyt. The AAHS students visited two F r e n c h high schools, spending several hours talking with the students. Miss Hoyt observed that the intensity of the French students, the individual attention from the "professeurs," the large number of subjects, the dearth of social activities at the schools, the leniency in dress, customs and rules - all of these things were different. "Manually, mentally and socially, French education is a new experience," Miss Hoyt said. "While it is more lenient in dress, custom and in the marnier of the students, it has a serious undertone not present in American schools." Miss Hoyt also found that French students are very interested in American politics. "They immediately asked us our opinión of Bobby Kennedy, whom they admired and supported as a peace candidate," she said. "Which system is best? (the French or American?) That question I can't answer," Miss Hoyt said, "but I know I'd be willing to spend a year studying in France to find out!" Probably the most important benefit of the trip for the students was the chance it gave them to practice their French (nearly all of the students had previously studied French). Glass put it this way: "As French students, the most apparent value for us was that everywhere we went, people were speaking French. Whenever we wanted to buy something, we asked for it in French. ... In this last week I've spoken more French than I would normally have spoken in a month." "This is the ideal learning situation," Glass continued, "all day long for eight days." Evidently, the students used every opportunity to speak the language. Mrs. Felbeck related o n e humorous incident which occurred while all the students were eating a meal together. One waitress was speaking to another, she said, pointing at the students and saying in astonishment, "They all speak French!" Another important result of the trip was the sense of history which it helped instill in the students- "a sense of the ancient," according to Miss Lowry. "Ha ving lived in Ann Arbor all of my life, I haven't seen too many things f rom the 16th century. It's very impressive to be walking among such old monuments. . . . It's nothing I would ever experience -in the United States." Eight days of April in Paris came to an end for the 102 AAHS students Sunday, but the memories will uncïoubtedly linger forever. In the words of Glass: „ "I feel that the trip had immeasurable value for everyone of the students. The trip was so worthwhile for us all that I couldn't imagine it not being offered in the future."