Tamagawa is a very large school, so large they must have a lake with fountains and a boat. The students call it a pond, but quite frankly, boats don't fit into ponds.
There IS an actual pond however, with Koi fish and all even a tortoise which I have self-christened "Kame-san" (ka-may-san - which translates to Mr. Turtle).
I haven't been sightseeing much because I've been at school, but I have been eating a lot, and I will tell you Japanese food is delicious. The photo is of "chawanmushi" (cha-wan-moo-shi) which is a sort of jelly/pudding-type food made with fish and herbs. It's delightful, if fish jelly can even be called that.
I also found someone of interest, Tokio! We're going to meet this weekend and go sightseeing together, then go karaoke and all sorts of other things like "purikura" (poo-ri-koo-ra).
This photo is a purikura. It's like a photobooth except much larger for more people and you can decorate the photo like change the background and add text and stamps and stuff. It's all really cool!
I'm going to explain all that to the student body in the video I'm making, for when I come back.
During my mid-I.B. summer I traveled to Peru in an R.S.I.S. project (Round Square International Service). This project began on the 16th of July when I left from Paris for Lima on a 19-hour journey, passing through Sao Paolo in Brazil. Upon my arrival in Lima I met the group leader Kate Gibson and other members of the group most of which were students from around the world. The group and I spent the first two days visiting Lima and painting the wall of a preschool to make the children’s life a little brighter with colorful paintings of animals and football. By the end of our second day the group had all its members and we were leaving for Cuzco by plane, where we regrouped for our visit to a llama farm and a traditional market in Pizac. Our group stayed in the Cuzco region for several days while we acclimated to the altitude and the surroundings, which to most of us were new, while we became accustomed to these new surrounding we participated in activities such as learning about the cultural of the Inca and how to play the Pan Flute, we also climbed the rock face of a mountain with metal ladder like studs.
At the end of our first week in Peru we traveled far into the mountains into a town called Quishyrani at an astounding 4200 meters in altitude, this is where our service would begin. We were briefed the night before about our objective, which was to build a green house next to a school for the children of the town. They needed this green house because as my fellow students and I noted the children were terribly underfed, this green house would allow the children to eat more balanced dishes because of the vegetables that would come from this green house. Our days were filled with hard labor of lifting large stones, digging trenches, carrying and peeling the bark from tree trunks, mixing mud and building a wall. Though our days were filled with hard work our nights filled the valley with sounds of laughter from our dinning hall, where we distracted each other and eased the sores of work with card games, magic tricks, stories of back home and warm food. After our first half of the service work in Quishyrani we left the frame of the green house unfinished though it would be quick work when we returned from the mid project break. The mid project break was spent in Aguas Calientes the town at the base of Machu Picchu, this was an amazing experience, though the town of Machu Picchu itself was not impressive from within its walls from above at the top of Huayna Picchu or from far at the Sun Gate there was no doubt in my mind about its position in the wonders of the world.
Upon our return to Quishyrani our work began almost immediately the morning of our arrival, though some changes had been made such as the separation of the group, some students like 8 others and myself were selected as the team to finish the last touches of the green house, we called ourselves the elite in the jokes we told to the rest of the group. The last days in Quishyrani were spent building mini green houses for those villager’s families that had helped us, one of the most memorable experiences I had was sharing a meal with one of these under privileged families, a moving experience because they shared what little food they had with me. The project came to its sad conclusion in Cuzco, which in my opinion was the climax of the project sharing my last couple days with international students who had became my closest friends. We explored and experienced the culture of Peru first hand.
On the 27th of September Berenice, Stefan, Christopher, Corentin, Sharon and I set off from Gare de l’Est with Mr.Hager for Germany. Our first train left the station at 11:24 and headed off for Karlsruhe. We shot past fields, cows, lakes, villages and Strasbourg before finally arriving in Karlsruhe at 14:25. Our next train wasn’t due for another half hour at least so we wandered around the station buying more things to eat and drink. At 3o’clock we climbed aboard the fancy ICE train. Inside everything was pale grey and very quiet so when we stumbled into the compartment everyone’s eyes were on us. On this train it took us about an hour to reach our next destination: Freiburg Breisgau. From here we took one last train to Baden-Wüttemberg where we walked from the station to the student house.
There our little group was split up: Berenice and Sharon shared a room as did Christopher and Stefan but Corentin and I were put into single rooms. We (including Mr.Hager) all slept on the second floor with the other students from the German school who we met properly later that evening but first we had dinner… Dinner was nice but as our group was first we took all the cheese nuggets, this helped the bonding with the other group as after we shared them. Once dinner was over we went to a mini-conference room where we started to get to know each other. Under the watchful eyes of our teachers and Dr. Uwe Berndt we got into pairs and stenciled each other onto a big sheet of paper. This was far trickier than it seemed, so everyone’s portrait came out wobbly and bizarre looking but it didn’t really matter because we then filled them in with information that we had found out about each other. Once our portraits finished, we pinned them onto the walls to form a gallery. Later in the evening we went our separate ways; some of us went back to our rooms while others ran up to the game room where there was a pool table, a ping pong table and a baby foot.
The next day we had breakfast at 08:30 and 45 minutes later we congregated in our mini-conference room for the first seminar of the day. This seminar was on the French and German relations that stretched from the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 to now. After lunch Dr. Uwe Berndt was replaced by Dr. Uwe Wenzel who talked to us about European integration. During this talk we had a quiz which proved to us just how little we knew about the European Union and so were very relieved when we were assigned a task. By the next day we had to have filmed an advertisement promoting the European Union in 2030. For this we were left three cameras and until 6 o’clock to get something ready.
By 9 o’clock on Thursday we were well on our way into France where we would be visiting the Veil Armand, a famous 1st world war battle field. Before going to the battle field we visited a small “musée-mémoire” where we were able to (amongst other things) handle pictures, posters, cards, books… all dating from the First World War. Once this over we were given a guided walk by Mr. Gilbert Wagner who took us up to the battle field. We stopped often along the way so that he could explain certain elements to us and to show us the bunkers that were strewn all over the mountain. By the end of the day we were exhausted!
We had another early start on Friday and slept all the way to Strasbourg where we were going to visit the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe. We visited the council of Europe first; we went into its court room and a nice gentleman explained to us how things worked and gave us a few examples of cases (that mostly seemed to involve England!). We then walked down the road to the Council of Europe. The building and the assembly room had very modern and unique architecture (the building looked like something out of a star wars movie) especially the assembly room as you had to walk through a carpeted labyrinth to reach the public and press gallery. Once out of the assembly room we were taken to a conference room where Dr. Michael Remmert gave us a talk about the Council of Europe.
After lunch on the stairs all of us (students and teachers) got our picture taken in front of the European Council sign. We then left the European Quarter to head towards the center of Strasbourg, there we visited the grand cathedral. It was a grand building that had been influenced by German and French architecture, like all the other buildings in Strasbourg that we were able to see during our free time.
Saturday morning was fairly smooth as we were able to get up half an hour later. That morning was spent packing, and once that was done, we went back into the mini-conference room to watch the videos we had filmed earlier that week. They were hilarious and no one could keep a straight face but there were many good ideas and every video painted a very optimistic picture of the European Union’s future. At 10:15, after saying goodbye and thank you, we left the student house and walked back to the train station where we started our long journey home.
For the third time in as many years, Ermitage students were fortunate enough to participate in the annual French-German Round Square Seminar in the Wiesneck Institute for Democracy. Situated in the Black Forest near Freiburg, Ermitage Students and students from our partner school in Germany, Birklehof, took part in a most enriching exchange and experience.
The conference took place over three days and four nights at the conference center. Students actively participated in seminars looking into the history of French and German relations, the causes and consequences of World War I and II and the development of Europe and its effects on relations past, present and future. Aside from the seminars, we visited battle and burial sites from World War I, The Council of Europe and International Court of Human Rights as well as a tour of Strasbourg.
This trip was extremely rewarding for all those involved and our students, as always, presented themselves as excellent ambassadors for Ermitage.
My highlights would be the time I spent in Paris whether it was in art galleries or museums or just walking around the city learning about the French culture and the way in which people live in France.
I enjoyed seeing the different sights and meeting new people and making new friends at Ermitage. I made so many friends who I will always remember as they made my exchange so special. Most importantly the Giraults, my host family, made my exchange so amazing as they were such a warm and caring family and I really enjoyed my time with them.
I am very pleased with my exchange. I met so many new people, learnt so much about the French culture and French history and I saw the most incredible things for which I am very grateful. I had such a memorable experience and I feel it has taught me to appreciate what I have and the opportunities I have been given. I was able to grow as a person on this exchange and learn to interact with people despite a language and culture barrier.
The positive aspects of my exchange would be the sense of independence I gained by travelling to a foreign country where I did not speak the language, meeting new people who taught me so much about the French culture and making new friends whom I will always remember and hopefully be able to see again in the future.
There were no negative aspects to my exchange. I learnt so much and was challenged to learn French more fluently and to be independent.
It is an amazing experience to be able to travel especially to a place as different and as interesting as Paris. I learnt so much which cannot be taught in a classroom and I am very grateful for the opportunity I was given to go on exchange to Ermitage.
Thank you for everything, it was the best experience of my life and the Girault family was so special and generous.
Dainfern College, South Africa
“Tracy and I would just like to say a huge “Thank You” for providing Chloe with such an amazing international exchange experience. She had a pleasant return flight and spent the day yesterday telling us all the most incredible stories about her experiences at Ermitage and with the Giraults as well as all about her shopping experiences in Paris and socialising with Paloma and her friends. We know she has come home with some life changing memories and I’m afraid her heart is forever “locked” in Paris! Many, many thanks.”
Blake says: “I have learnt so much, learning in a totally different culture. My French has improved a lot because I was speaking it the whole time. Paris is amazing; the most beautifulplace in the world!”
Basile says: “Great opportunity, Australia is such a beautiful country and the climate is so amazing. It’s very exciting; I’m getting better at English every day! TSS is the coolest place in the world, I feel like I’m going to the Harry Potter School!”
The French Department is very pleased to announce the very first exchange between L’Ecole Ermitage in Paris, an International School of France, and The Southport School through our partner organisation: Round Square. A big thank you to Mr George without whom the exchange would not have taken place!
Last year Blake Thompson attended L’Ecole Ermitage for two months, staying with a French family in Paris. He took the Metro every day to school, participated in school activities, and rode a bike along the Seine River past the Eiffel Tower. This year, the senior boys have the unique opportunity to work closely in the language classroom with Blake’s buddy, Basile who will be at TSS until Friday, July 30, 2010.
This exchange is the linguistic and cultural key to enable boys to become bilingual in English and French. It also helps to build an ‘international classroom’ where our students can learn in different contexts; from the academic to the cognitive, affective, and experiential, and benefit from academic crossovers. Being away from their families and friends encourages boys to become adults who are capable of establishing bridges of understanding between peoples of other nations, religions, socio-economic groups, cultures, ages, and genders, which is a valuable skill to have at that age!
Well done to Blake and let’s hope many more boys will take part in such an enriching exchange in the future!
Vive le français!
French Coordinator & Teacher at the Southport School
The highlights of my exchange would have to be Christmas in France, which is a very large celebration. It was really exciting and I felt really a part of the family during Christmas time. Further, just meeting new people over here has been really interesting. I love the French way of life, especially the “frequence alimentaire” I love food times here, that’s been a great highlight. Also I spent New Years with my family and 24 other friends of theirs in a real Château in Dordogne – and that week was the best week here. It was amazing, there was no internet so I was really living in the present, and the friends I made there are really good friends that I will keep for life. Most of all, it was fantastic to experience a different culture and how they live, it really opens up your eyes and you realize there is a whole world out there living at the same time as you, it’s an incredible feeling.
While at first it was very difficult I am so pleased I went on exchange. My level of French has improved ridiculously, I’ve made friends that will remain invaluable to me, and I’ve become a stronger and more resilient, but also more flexible and adaptive person. This experience has completely changed me, I’m going to return home a completely different person, I doubt my family will believe it. Overall, this has been a fantastic experience, it has shaped me become the person I am today, and has made me more culturally aware of the world and people.
The most positive aspect has been meeting new people and experiencing a new way of life. Although this was the most difficult thing – living in a different rhythm – it is also very positive because it’s that that makes an exchange an exchange, if everyone was the same then there wouldn’t be a point in seeing the world, because it would be “pareil” and it would be boring. Other positive parts have been seeing and hearing my French improve beyond belief, I am so proud of myself in that respect. Other positive aspects are the food here, I love eating and as I said earlier that was a really important (and awesome) part of my exchange.
The first two, three weeks were terrifying. I definitely underestimated the whole “being away from family and living in a different country” thing. I went through really tough homesickness and faced some disagreements with my host sister. Further, school too was such a chore – coming from a school very modern with their teaching styles and being very interesting I really struggled with school. But after a few weeks it all got more natural, and easier, and now I don’t want to leave! The first two/three weeks of arguing with myself whether I should just give up and go home and saying “why did you do this in the first place” are so worth it in the end. Making new friends, living in a different place, experiencing different things, seeing my French improve beyond belief and all the food and shopping make up for it!
I guess I just should have been reminded that it’s a complete different rhythm, different culture and I think students should be well informed of the difficulties they are going to face in the first three weeks. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I didn’t know it would be as hard as I found it… and I found that really stressful. But with a lot of support from my family it made it a whole lot easier and I had a blast – seriously the rest of the time here made up for the first two weeks. And now I don’t want to go home!
Best piece of advice:While on exchange it is essential to live in the present and don’t regret or hold back anything. You’ve only got one chance to do something like this and you shouldn’t waste your time being upset, just enjoy yourself, immerse yourself in the culture and just go with the flow.
Après avoir fait acte de candidature au programme d’échange international de l’Ermitage dans un pays anglophone, j’ai reçu une réponse positive à ma demande et une proposition de partir pour l’Afrique du Sud. J’ai tout de suite été intéressée par cette destination étant donné que je souhaitais améliorer mon anglais, découvrir une autre culture, un système scolaire très différent et également par la même occasion un continent africain peuplé d’animaux sauvages vivant encore en liberté dans leur environnement naturel. C’est ainsi que j’ai été mise en contact avec Chloe C., une lycéenne de Dainfern College à Johannesburg. Très vite avec l’aide de nos familles et nos écoles nous avons fixé la date de mon départ pour l’Afrique du Sud (…).
En Afrique du Sud les cours commencent très tôt, souvent à 6h30. Les élèves peuvent choisir les matières qu’ils désirent étudier tout au long de l’année, ceci ayant une influence sur le choix de leurs études. Les élèves doivent également s’investir dans des activités humanitaires telles qu’aider les enfants démunis. (…) Les cours à Dainfern College se terminent à 14h et les élèves font du sport l’après-midi. […]
La langue officielle de l’Afrique du Sud est l’anglais. L’accent ressemble beaucoup à l’australien même si le pays a ses propres expressions, c’est un anglais tout à fait compréhensible et j’ai donc pu faire des progrès sans trop de difficultés. En Afrique du Sud on parle également le Zulu qui est la langue « noire »du pays et l’Afrikaans qui est la langue « blanche » et qui est issue du hollandais. A l’ école, les élèves peuvent apprendre une de ces deux langues.
Même si l’Apartheid a eu lieu en Afrique du Sud il y a de nombreuses années, les Zulus (ou autres tribus) ne se mélangent pas vraiment aux Afrikaans (ou aux personnes de descendance européenne. (…) En Afrique du Sud les personnes blanches sont souvent bien plus fortunées que les personnes de couleur qui très souvent vivent dans des bidonvilles ou des quartiers très pauvres.
Beaucoup de jeunes filles africaines n’ont pas accès à l’éducation et c’est pour cela que la présentatrice américaine Oprah Winfrey a fondé The Oprah School : une école pour filles méritantes à Johannesburg.
Dans le cadre de mon programme d’échange, Chloe et moi avons été invitées à passer le weekend dans cette école. (…) Le soir nous avons assisté à une assemblée qui était très différente de celle de Dainfern College car le but principal de cette assemblée était de présenter aux élèves des personnes issues comme elles de milieux défavorisés, qui avaient réussi à sortir de la pauvreté en travaillant dure pour obtenir ce qu’elles désiraient. Ainsi, chaque assemblée de l’école était l’occasion de recevoir un invité qui venait parler de son histoire et donner espoir aux jeunes filles. (…)
L’Afrique du sud est un pays extraordinaire par sa faune et sa flore unique au monde.(..) J’ai été invitée par une élève de Dainfern à passer quatre jours dans sa maison de campagne située dans un parc nommé Mabalingwee. Nous sommes arrivés le mercredi soir et avons pu observer une éclipse au milieu de la savane. Le lendemain matin lors du petit déjeuner, des animaux sauvages tels que des phacochères et des babouins ont été attirés par l’odeur de la nourriture et nous leur avons donné nos restes qu’ils venaient prendre dans nos mains ! Deux semaines plus tard, les Connellan m’ont emmenée dans un parc animalier où j’ai pu voir des animaux africains très rares comme des chiens sauvages ou des lions blancs.
Ce voyage m’a permis de faire de nouvelles rencontres, de découvrir un nouveau pays, voir des animaux sauvages, mais aussi un autre système scolaire. Sans ce voyage je n’aurais pas eu l’occasion d’améliorer mon anglais et d’apprendre à vivre de façon autonome sans ma famille.
I really enjoyed my stay in France and it may well have been the best time of my life. At first I didn't know what to expect and who I was going to meet but my experience definitely exceeded any of my expectations.
Although I could not speak much French, this did not stop me from having a blast. I met people that I will remember for the rest of my life and hopefully someday I will see them again. This opportunity made a huge impact on my life; the trip has taught me many lessons that I will use throughout my life. I have gained maturity as well as confidence in myself and I have gained a new outlook on life.
I would like to thank you and the rest of the staff for taking such good care of me and teaching me a great deal. Your organisation is amazing and thank you for making sure that I got the most out of my exchange. If it weren't for you, this amazing experience would not have been possible. I would not have stayed with such an amazing family; the Boccovi's. I can't thank you, and everyone I met, especially my host family, enough for such a delightful stay in France. I will cherish the memories forever.