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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Countdown to Classes Duo Paris / Knoxville Cultural Exchange in Paris

In less than four weeks, the students from Nature's Way Montessori School who are participating in the Classes Duo Paris / Knoxville video cultural exchange program will make their way to Paris to meet their French video pals.

Since December 2017, I have periodically reported on the unfolding of this groundbreaking project, which unites elementary school children from Nature's Way in Knoxville, TN and Jean Zay Elementary School in Paris, France through Beauford's life and art.

Nature's Way students as seen on video by Jean Zay students
© Wells International Foundation

Participants from both schools are 7-10 years old.

Through seven (7) video conferences held over the course of Spring Semester 2018, the children got to know each other by asking each other questions about their families, hobbies, and daily routines. With assistance from the program facilitators, including the use of phonetic spelling, the French children asked their questions in English and the American children asked theirs in French.

Phonetic spelling for an English-language question
asked by a Jean Zay student
© Wells International Foundation

Between sessions, the students participated in art lessons that included the exploration of science and social studies topics in addition to several aspects of Beauford's life in Knoxville and in Paris. They showed their paintings, drawings, and clay sculptures during the video sessions.

Nature's Way student shows Beauford's Untitled (Trees)(right)
and his copy of the work (left)
© Wells International Foundation

Jean Zay students show their Beauford Delaney portraits
© Wells International Foundation

At the end of the semester, the children from both schools were asked to express their thoughts about the program in individual video interviews. All of the Knoxville children gave their interviews in French!

Jean Zay video interviews
Nature's Way video interviews

Now, excitement is mounting as the Nature's Way kids and their families prepare for their trip and the Jean Zay kids, their families, and their school prepare to receive the Tennesseans. In anticipation, the students are copying Beauford's portraits of three of his favorite musicians - Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, and Marian Anderson.

Charlie Parker
(1968) Oil on canvas
Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester
Photograph by Joshua Nefsky; Courtesy of
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Nature's Way student's copy of Beauford's Charlie Parker
Image courtesy of Nature's Way Montessori School

The visit will take place from October 5-13, 2018. Among the activities planned are a public art exhibition of the students work, a sleep-over for the Knoxville children with Parisian families, and an excursion to the Pompidou Center and the nearby Galerie Intemporel to see Beauford Delaney works.

After the trip, video conferences will continue to be organized for the students through the end of Spring Semester 2019.

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