For Spring break 2009, the Valley High School (from West Des Moines, Iowa) combined String Orchestra and A Capella Choir went on a tour of France including some places in Normandy and Paris. This page documents some observations and photos by one of the chaperons, Al Prosser, and his daughter Ariel.
Sometimes in our lives, we get opportunities to have experiences that have the potential to become life changing. Encounters with other cultures and countries can be extremely valuable to our ability to cope with this shrinking and fast changing world. When these opportunities come, we have choices to make. Do we make the sacrifices necessary to take advantage of the opportunity? How much do we get out of it? Do we make the effort to make it the most meaningful?
The young people on this trip got to learn a bit about another culture, international travel, history and art. Most of them and their families had to make sacrifices to be able to make the trip. The memories they carry back can remain with them the rest of their lives or they can disappear. I find that photographs can help the memories remain alive. Even better is to write down how the experiences affect you. The sooner the better. Writing how they affected you emotionally seems to work best. I strongly suggest writing something about how you felt, performing in churches that were hundreds of years old, performing in honor of thousands of people who gave their lives for freedom. Can you imagine the kinds of people who comissioned, created, and first viewed the pieces of art we observed? What would it have been like to come to see the King, to be led to the Hall of Mirrors, to take a walk in the gardens with the King himself? Would you like to be able to drive in Paris? What food did you try for the first time that you liked? Did you learn any words in French? Were there things that made you grateful to live in Iowa? What would you most like to see in more depth if you go back? Do you want to go back to visit, to study, to live? Write it down. Save that with pictures that are meaningful to you.
For the parents that went on the trip: I hope you enjoyed taking this trip with your teenager as much as I did. They will be moving on soon, and these chances do not come often. Please encourage your teenager to document their voyage, and do so yourself.
For the parents that sent their children: Thank you for making the sacrifices to send your children to another country. It is hard to imagine or describe how valuable this can be. We live in a smaller world today, and the more aware our children are of the differences, the better they will be able to get along in the new reality. If your children's description of their trip is less than half an hour, I hope you enjoyed reading a little more about what happened.
Comments on the French people: I found them to be friendly and patient for the most part. Friendly when approached with courtesy and patient when not. I was impressed by how chaotic the traffic was, while still being quiet. I did not hear constant horns, but did see constant close calls. I do not know what the term would be to describe personal space when one is driving, but they tolerated a lot less space between cars and two wheelers and pedestrians than I see in Iowa. The Parisians were in general more in a hurry than unfriendly. The people in the shops were friendly. I had nice complements from people about the performances, and about our new administration. I look forward to going again sometime to practice more of my French.
If you care more about pictures, click on the picture of the day or the date. If you want to read the descriptions, click on the reference to thumbnail versions. The thumbnails are displayed 1/25 the size. See Note below.
March 16, 2009 - Paris. Choir concert at Notre-Dame. Louvre
Concert at La Madeleine. Dinner
at Monte-Carlo after short walk on Champs Elysees near Arc de
Thumbnail version of Monday March 16, 2009
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