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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Classes Duo Paris / Knoxville - Knoxville students' excursion to Paris a HUGE success! - Part 2

In last week's post, I shared information about the first half of the Paris excursion for the Knoxville students who are participating in the Classes Duo cultural exchange program.

Here's what happened next!

On the morning of Wednesday, October 10, I led the majority of the Nature's Way parents and children on a tour of Beauford's Montparnasse.

Gathering for the walking tour
© Wells International Foundation

As we walked in Beauford's footsteps, I talked about his life in the neighborhood, his burial at the cemetery in Thiais, and how I learned about his story and eventually founded Les Amis de Beauford Delaney to raise the money to place a tombstone at his grave.

That afternoon, Jean Zay and Nature's Way students visited the Centre Pompidou, France's national museum of modern and contemporary art.

Nature's Way families arrive at Centre Pompidou
© Wells International Foundation

Jean Zay students arrive at Centre Pompidou
© Wells International Foundation

Each group had a guide who spoke to the children in their native language. The guide for the Nature's Way kids began her presentation with a discussion about how modern and contemporary art are defined.

Nature's Way students with their guide
© Wells International Foundation

I tagged along with the French group and observed how their guide engaged the children with questions about paintings and sculptures by Fernand Leger, Pablo Picasso, and Constantin Brancusi.

Jean Zay students ponder a painting by Fernand Leger
© Wells International Foundation

The Knoxville students' parents enjoyed an unguided visit to the museum at the same time.

From the Pompidou Center, I led everyone over to the Galerie Intemporel, where owner Laurence Choko showed them six Beauford Delaney paintings and works on paper.

Arriving at Galerie Intemporel
© Wells International Foundation

Left to right: Laurence Choko and Monique Y. Wells
© Wells International Foundation

Laurence Choko shows Beauford Delaney works
© Wells International Foundation

Jean Zay students with Beauford Delaney portrait
© Wells International Foundation
Portrait of Vasilli Pikoula
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

That evening, several Nature's Way students slept over at the homes of French families.

On the morning of Thursday, October 11, all the Nature's Way families converged on Jean Zay Elementary School to be welcomed by the school's director, teachers, and entire student body.

Welcome assembly at Jean Zay Elementary School
© Wells International Foundation

The school provided a continental breakfast for the visitors and everyone got a tour of the facilities. Several French parents attended the breakfast to make the acquaintance of the American parents.

© Wells International Foundation

Nature's Way students in Jean Zay library
(the Zoom videoconference room)
© Wells International Foundation

The Nature's Way kids attended class with the French students for the duration of the morning, followed by lunch in the school canteen. They were fortunate to visit the school during La Semaine du Goût (Taste Week), a time when French children learn about the wide variety of French and international culinary traditions and learn how to appreciate cuisine. On the menu that day: Petit Salé aux Lentilles - a meat and lentil dish from the Auvergne region of France.

Once the students set off for class, I led a second walking tour of Beauford's Montparnasse for the parents who did not attend the walk on Wednesday morning. We returned to the school in time for the parents to pick their children up after lunch. Their afternoon was free.

On Friday, October 12, the morning was reserved for sightseeing in Montmartre. During the afternoon, everyone returned to Jean Zay Elementary School for the farewell pot, or reception. Juliette Blache, who has organized the video conferences for Jean Zay since the inception of the program, created an exhibition of the portraits the students created on Tuesday afternoon. She presented a slide show of photos of the week's activities that she accompanied with audio from Beauford's playlist. Everyone enjoyed this trip down what was quickly becoming "memory lane."

Watching the slide show
© Wells International Foundation

The entire group then moved to a large activity room for a French goûter (after-school snack) consisting of a variety of cookies, cakes, and juices.

Enjoying refreshments at the farewell reception
© Wells International Foundation

The students played hand games and collected snail mail addresses. Jean Zay children signed a soccer ball for one of the Nature's Way kids. Children hugged. Parents and teachers marveled at the harmony and energy the kids displayed and provided written testimonials about what this excursion has meant to their children and to them.

Farewell reception collage
© Wells International Foundation

After saying their goodbyes, the Nature's Way families enjoyed an evening consisting of dinner at an Alsatian restaurant, a visit to the Arc de Triomphe, and a stroll down the Champs Elysées. They returned to Knoxville on Saturday, October 13.

Overall, the trip was a RESOUNDING SUCCESS! Discussion about organizing a trip for the Jean Zay children to Knoxville is now underway.

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