Europe Day at Smith Middle

Europe Day at Smith Middle

Monday, April 11

Back from Belgium and France - Thank you to the EU

We are home ~ we are changed in more ways than I can describe. After the jet lag wears off, I will post reflections that will hopefully capture the depth of learning and sense of self-efficacy that we all experienced. But for now, I am depending on you, the traveler, the reader to post your thoughts..take a look at the pictures on the right and describe what you see and/or answer some guiding questions but they are optional:
If you participated on the Belgian exchange trip...
1. What was your most memorable moment? Describe it so we all can "see" it
2. What did you learn about conservation? WWII? the European Union?
3. What did you learn about yourself?
4. Would you recommend this experience to others? Why?
If you did not participate on the exchange....
1. Describe an experience when you interacted with someone from another culture..what did you learn from it?
2. How can we be more eco-friendly? What can you do?
3. Is learning a second or third language important? Why?

To read Chapel Hill Magazine's Blogs or see pics uploaded by Mr. Bennett click here
https://sites.google.com/a/chccs.k12.nc.us/belgian-trip-2011/

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

1)Throughout this trip, there were many moments that I will never forget in my life, but the home stay program was a very good experience! At first, it feels weird staying in a stranger's house, but my host family was very welcoming, and we did many fun activities.
2)This helped me realize the magnitude of WWII. Countless people dies on the battlefields, as if they were nothing. I think that they are very courageous people, risking their own lives to provide a better life for others.
3)I learned that I can be helpful, and that I can also make an impact in other people's lives.
4)I would definitely recommend this experience to others. You get to experience something that most other probably won't experience in a lifetime, and is one that you will never forget.

Daniel L.
Francais 2

Arturo said...

The last time interacted with someone from another culture I was nervous but I could tell they were too. But it turned out into a fun learning situation. I think learning a second or third language is important because there are many primary languages like in most countries several languages are spoken and that is why it is important to even know the primary languages in your country.

Katya said...

Question 3:
It's important to learn more than one language because that way you can connect with so many other people. For example, I speak English and Russian fluently, and I'm learning French. That way I can talk to people from 3+ nationalities!!
It's interesting to compare the languages, too -- a lot of Russian words are derived from French (because of Napoleon): sidewalk, trottoir in French, and тротуар in Russian (pronounced trot-oh-ar, as well)
I love speaking 3 languages! After all, it is an interesting world.
--Katya K, 8th grade.

Anonymous said...

1) Last year, I met this french kid who was staying with my aunts friend. He speaks fluent french and was like 12. He also came to SMith and talked to some of the 8th graders in french. I learned a lot about what his life is like and about Paris. Also, we talked about the French president, and his family. It was really cool.

2) There are a lot of ways to be eco-friendly. But the simplest are taking the bus to school and back instead of being driven, because this saves a lot of gas, which does not rise into the atmosphere. Also, you can take shorter showers, this saves water, and electricity. And you can Reuse, Reduce and Recycle.

3) I think that learning a second or third language is very important because it is great to be able to speak with a kinds of people. But it is also important because they make you a lot smarter and help you through life. For example, Latin. Latin is where many languages came form, so by learning latin, you can sometimes figure out what words mean.

Julianna T. 7th grade 7th period

Emily 7th Period said...

I've read all the blogs and all of the documents from the trip. It all sounds amazing! I'm in 7th Grade, and I hope that when I'm in 9th grade i will be able to go on this trip. This trip sounds life-changing and even though I won't go anytime soon, I love to learn about it. Maybe we'll look at some photos in class?

Anonymous said...

For being eco-friendly, you can take shorter showers, and make sure all your faucets are turned off, to save water. Car pooling or taking the bus both save gas and that helps the atmosphere.

For learning a second language, I think it is important because you never know who you are going to meet or where you might one day travel. By learning a second language, you can also improve your English, and see patterns and roots.

Brynn P-M, 7th grade

DavidaH said...

Bonjour madame!
I didn't get to go on the trip (parce que je suis dans la septieme annee), but I think learning a second language is really important because it gives you a connection with the rest of the world- not all of it speaks English. If you do know a second or third language, then
a) you have a connection with other people around the globe
b) it can help use your brain in other ways
c) opens up more job options and other opportunities in life.

Anonymous said...

Bonjour,
This is the second time that I am doing this blog post, so this time I am going to answer the questions differently.
Being eco-friendly is as easy as not wasting water, you can do this by turning off the sink when you are brushing your teeth, or when you are soaping off your hands. Also, you can turn off the lights in your house when you leave to go out to dinner or vacation. More ways are to simply turn down the cooling system one degree in the summer and turn down the heating one degree in the winter. This saves a lot of electricity and saves money.
Learning many languages is helpful when traveling, because it enables you to converse with different types of people in different cultures and places. It also makes you smarter, because when you converse with other people, you learn from what they are saying. So if you are talking with someone in france, then you can learn all about their favorite places and how they celebrate holidays.
Julianna T.

Sarah B. said...

1.I kind of experianced a differentculture when Mme. Shafroth came in to smith and talked to us about being in paris when it was liberated. I learned have different our cultures are. (europe and Amercia)
2. we can be more ecofriendly by getting those little power readers installed in more homes, to show how muvh power you have used that day to see if it is too much or too little ect.
3. I think learning a second or third language is important, for 2 big reasons. The obvious reason is so that you can communicate with other people from different countries. I think another big reason is that when you learn a language, you also learn about the culture that goes with that language.

Andy said...

I remember that that last summer, I met a guy from Madagascar. He was really laid back, and he spoke French mainly, but he spoke decent English as well. When he told us about his life, it seemed that everything might've been a bit more environmental than here.
I suppose learning a second or third language really is important when it comes to traveling in foreign countries.

Anonymous said...

Vatsal P
1)The most memorable moment was being at the top of the eiffel tower, it was really cool.
2)I learned that Europe is very conservative from their flushes to their laundry. About world war II I learned about how many people died in the cemetary.
3)About myself I learned that I could speak better french than I thought.
4)I would recomend this experience to others because I had a lot of fun and it was definitly worth while.

Anonymous said...

I'd say the most memorable moment of the exchange was having to assimilate with the Belgian family. Since speaking French isn't my specialty, having to travel and shop with them was an odd experience. The first night I cried because I missed my American friends, and I missed speaking English.
Going to Saint-Benoit Saint-Servais was also a fascinating experience. The teachers made fun of Americans occasionally, and the stereotypical American conversations about our need for McDonalds. Though it was somewhat rude, I still laughed throughout the conversation.
When we weren't at school we were at home, and I gained a trusting bond with my Belgian. The day they performed for us, he cried and said he'd miss me very much, and that I had become like a brother figure to him, for it was only him and his mother.
When we arrived back in America I was ecstatic, extremely jet-lagged, but ecstatic. The first thing I ate when I got back in America was a Boston creme from Dunkin' Doughnuts. It wasn't like the pastries in Belgium, which I longed for.
When we got to school I didn't like it, going back to the old grind. Having to go back to classes and routine, I hated it.
I missed Liege very much, and hopefully someone else could want for the same experience I had.

Tyler R.

Anonymous said...

My favorite moment of the trip was going to the top of the Eiffel Tower. It was amazing to get a view of the city from that high up. I learned a lot about WWII while i was there. We went to Omaha, which was the beach they fought D-Day on. It was an unforgettable experience to go there. I learned to try new things and take some risks, it helped me to be more adventerous. I would definetly reccomend this experience to others, it's something i will never forget.

Sarah M.
3rd period

Anonymous said...

1. This was my first time going to france and belgium so everything down to the last detail was memorable. But to me The most memorable moment is between Paris and the home-stay. My host family was extremely welcoming and we were similar in many ways so i had an idea of what to expect. They took me to Maastricht and took very good care of me. They reminded me of my own family. Paris, on the other hand was the most beautiful place I had been to! I loved the view from my hotel room balcony and everything was gorgeous! We visited all the monuments and had a wonderful time!
2. After visiting the WWII memorials and monuments, I realized that though the war is over..is it still very much alive. Some memorials were on private property but they let anyone who wanted visit and took care of the place. It really showed how much the appreciated what the Allies did for their country. Energy-wise, I realized that they saved much more energy and water than we did. They had wind turbines up everywhere didn't turn on the lights unless absolutely necessary. And for small loads of laundry, they would just get a bucket of water and handwash them.
3. I learned that I love chocolate Mousse, meatballs, and learning French. My penpal taught me a lot and was an amazing guide and translator.
4. I would absolutely reccomend this trip to others. This is a one in a lifetime experience and you will remember this for the est of your lives. Plus, you'll have many stories to tell your very jealous friends.

Chelsea y.
3rd Period

Anonymous said...

Even though I didn't go to France and Belgium, I feel like this was a very unforgettable opportunity for my friends who got the chance to go! Thank you EU!! I can say that everyone had a really good time because even now, 4 weeks later they still talk about how they had the time of their lives. And I don't get tired of listening to them because I feel like I was there.
So again, thanks to the EU for giving our school such a great opportunity!
Erika B

Hugh K. said...

If I could go again I most definitely would. The trip to Europe was on of the most breath taking experiences you could ever go though.
I have grown up with a lot of these kids who went on the trip. After being friends with them for numerous years all of a sudden you're walking the streets of Paris with them.
At the Airport it was a bitter-sweet moment. I believe that everyone was sad to leave all their friends who they got to be such close friends with.

Anonymous said...

I believe that this year's exchange was one of the best. We had a great group of students and wonderful teachers that went. It was an experience of a lifetime.
1) The most memorable moment of the trip for me was diner. Every night we would have many 3 or 4 cources and every night was completely different. They took so much more pride in meals that in America. I enjoyed the 3 hour diners.
2) Before going to Europe I knew that they were more eco-friendly that Americans but they were much more extreme that what I thought. I loved how when you walked into a hallway lights would come on, and then go back off when you left. I scared me at first but I gor used to it in a matter of 3 days.
3) During the trip I learned a lot about myself. I learned I know more French that I thought and that I can read, write, and French so much better that I can hear it.
4) I personally loved this exchange and I recommend this trip to any and everyone. It was a life changing experience that I will talk about for the rest of my life. It is also a great way to experience life in France and Belgium. I have a fantasic realtionship with my pen-pals and I am excided to see her when she comes to America.

Hannah St. PD. 3 Francais 1B

Anonymous said...

THe trip sounds amazing! I think I will go when I am in 9th grade and I am already really excited!

Jaryn Tyson

Anonymous said...

Learning a second or third language is important because...

1. it takes 5 years off of whe you become crazy
2. you will see the similarites between different languages
3. when and if you travel you will be able to speak at least one of the languges they speak

Hannah Cable 7th period

Anonymous said...

i have been taking french since 1st grade, and i love it. taking a language is important because it helps you understand a culture different than our own, but we also find the things that make us similer. most people in other countries are fluent in their native language and english, while most americans just know english. if you travel to another country, it is important to be able to communicate with them in their language, even if they know english. learning a second or third language helpsto engage the mind, and prevents dimentia by 5 years (more or less) a lot of root words come from another language, so knowing different languages can help you figure out what new words mean based on the root.
-Brenna R. 7th period french

Sally said...

I am in 7th grade and I can't wait to have this experience! I remember in 6th grade when the students came it was so exciting.

Anjali V. said...

1. My cousins live in Europe and I have visited them a few times. It was very interesting to see what things they did differently and how they went about their daily lives. It did take some adjusting to at first, but then I got used to it. One thing I noticed was that the society in general was much more laid back.

2. We can always be more eco-friendly in our daily lives. One common thing that we almost always do is leave lights on or the computer/T.V. on even when we are not using them. Another thing that would be really helpful is if we had more pedestrian or bike paths to get to places. Chapel Hill is a small town and it would be great if there were more bike paths to get to school and such.

3. Learning a second/third language is important because it is very helpful to know more than just your native language. Learning another language can help you understand the different cultures around us which just reading about it in class could never do. It is also very helpful in business, particularly when your business is international because it could help you with communication around the world.

Anonymous said...

While on this awesome trip I found out how cool France and Belgium is. The food was about 30 times better then I had previously thought the food would be. And my pen-pal and his family were so much nicer then I thought they would be. Also Belgium was a beautiful place to stay in, I just wish I could stay longer. actually since me and my pen-pal became so close he invited me back this summer to stay with him again.

Harrison Young said...

WhenI went to France i felt like i did not learn as much as i wanted given the time I had there. But hearing from all of the people that went there and came back to0 tell me all about the great time they had in Brussels and France. They told me about the history and the culture and the language, things that I had not learned when I went. Hearing from them made me even more excited to go to France and Belgium.

Kate said...

That sounded like an amazing trip. i think it is awesome how the EU donates money to this trip every time we go. Im a 7th grader at Smith Middle school and im looking forward to going on this amazing trip in the 9th grade.

Emma said...

i think that its really cool that the EU donates so much to our school for this exchange. the Belgium/Paris trip sounds like it was a really good time. i cant wait to try and go in 9th grade!!!

Patrick Aris, 7th Grade said...

I hope that, when i'm in 9th grade, I too will be able to answer these questions when (if) i come back from this trip. I can tell that this was a fantastic learning experience for these students just by reading their comments. I can't wait till I get a chance like this to go out of the country and learn about all these different things and finally put everything I've been learning for the past couple of years to the test.

Leah said...

It seemed like you had a such a good trip. Our school is so lucky because the EU donates money every time. I hope I can go in 9th grade. :)

Jessi said...

1) When I went to Albania in second grade, I didn't really understand the language very well, but that's all they spoke. I learned that it's important to know other languages than English and I also learned how to try to communicate with someone even if we don't understand each other.
2) There are a lot of ways we, as one, can be eco-friendly. We can carpool, ride the bus, turn the lights off, just don't be wasteful.
3) Yes, because in some time in your life, you're going to need to know how to speak another language to communicate with them

-Jessi Skela, 7th grade French

Anonymous said...

Alberto F. I am glad that you guys were all able to enjoy yourselves and I just hope that I'll be able to have the same experience. I am currently in French I and I plan to go on the trip when I am a ninth grader. I have been learning French since I was a 1st grader and have always desired to learn how to speak fluently and be as good as my older sibling Erika which is in French III right now, we both plan on continuing to learn this beautiful language and we are also planning on possibly becoming French teachers. We talk in French at home often and really enjoy it! Well anyways French is really fun to speak and a great language to learn.

Ashley said...

1)When the kids from Mexico I met some of the penpals of my friend's. They were really ncie, but I learned that their English was actually really good and that it would be pretty weird going somewhere where people speak actually really fast.
2)I think we can we more eco-friendly by walking, biking, or riding public buses to places instead of going by car. I think this would help because there are a lot of cars in the U.S and in some places most people just take a subway or a bus, where you can fit a lot of people but is still using the same amount of gas.
3)Learning a second or third language is really important because you can also learn about the culture and you can interact with more people.

Anonymous said...

i think it was good for some of the smith middle school students when to Europe so they could learn some culture other than just the American.






fredy centeno 3rd pd

Lauren M. said...

1) The entire trip was a very memorable moment for me. But some things stood out to me. (1)Going to the eiffl tower was great. Even though I'm not the biggest fan of heights, I looked out over the city one or two times. Seeing the entire city lit up on a dark night in paris was amazing. (2) When we were at the American Cemetery, it was a very peaceful place. Even though there were thousands of soldiers beside me, it was wonderful how you could look over the cliff and you could see the waves rushing onto the shore. Also, how you could see the sea for miles and miles. That was very beautiful. (3)The SHOPPING!! I loved shopping in Paris and in Belgium with everyone. There clothes are a little different, but not that much. I loved shopping there because it was something different to do.
2)I learned so many things that it is hard for me to put it in a short paragraph.
3)I learned that I can live in a foreign country, and live in a house with people who can't speak good english for a week. And that I can live without my family for 2 weeks.
4)Its a great experience. You learn so many things about yourself and others. Its a great way to meet new people.

Emer's reflection following the European Exchange Experience

“Tonight for dinner food is…..” Oh great, I thought. Where’s my dictionary? So, what was it again? Ah yes, a word beginning with “c”. I’m not even going to attempt asking the spelling, so I’ll just browse the “c” section for a meat of some sort. Ok, so it’s not there, I’ll guess. Lamb? No. Beef, YES!!! Ok, but isn’t beef- boeuf? Well at least I have some idea of what I’m eating…some. Oh, the joys of living with a family in a different language. Sure, it’s hard and darn confusing, but isn’t that the point? It’s meant to be a challenge, you know? It’s meant to make you take a step back, and think before you say something, which will most likely be the wrong thing. Sometimes, I wish things would stay like that. Not knowing much of each others language and constantly learning. I got such a thrill from hearing them I never wanted to stop listening and talking. Mistakes? Always, but never a problem. One night, I told the brother I went to bed at 6 (pm) instead of I slept for 6 hours. Oops! It’s inevitable, but they come and go like clouds, and you just laugh and move on. It puts half the fun in conversing. One of the main lessons I learnt on this trip is to take life slowly. We can’t always, speak, or type, or do things as fast as we (Americans) do. You’re learning a new culture, and if you go too fast, you’ll miss the small things that matter along the way, like the first time you think in French. Man, that’s amusing! March 25th, my host family drove me to the train station. Let me tell you, in that car ride, I found a new meaning to “Never say goodbye”. All I could say was “PLEASE visit me in America, you’re always welcome” and “I’ll miss you a lot!!!” of course there was a ton of Franglais in there. Well, it’s the thought that counts! As the train pulled out of the station, me, Helena and like half of the American and Belgian students started crying- like sobbing crying. When that happens, you know that bonds have been made, and connections tied up. These are people- friends that we would never ever forget. We came across the big pond to learn about Europe, oh but we learnt and gained so much more. I for one will never look at the word “Together” or “Ensemble” again the same way, because it means something bigger than the dictionary could ever say. Dictionary definition: into or in one gathering, company, mass, place, or body: to call the people together. My definition: united- when you and another person are doing something ~ you’re united in what you’re doing, with all differences forgotten, because, essentially, you’re the same, and being ~ or doing something ~ brings out that equality. The world is ~ and always will be, it just takes people who know that to show the rest of the world. United in diversity- aren’t we all? Diversity! Bingo!!! That’s what we are. The American and Belgian students, we’re diverse to the limits, and best of friends. An adventure and friendship of a lifetime for me began with conversation. Sunday afternoon, doing homework and a window popped up on the computer screen. “Emer” “Yes?” “It’s Flore, your pen pal” “…OMG, HI!!!!” “I mean, Salut!!!” Flore and I, our friendship began with conversation and I hope it always stays that way. I mean, the European Union was all about removing boundaries and borders, well, we’re about removing language barriers and not letting physical boundaries stop friendships from flourishing. Conversation is one of a couple ways to get rid of language barriers- for once I can be proud of my inability to not stop talking! What bad could happen from talking? Practice makes perfect and I truly believe that the more we practice talking to each other in each other’s language we will come to understand each other. And that- that would just be…a dream come true.

We DID video conference with students at Smith on March 23 10-12pm

Thank you to Federal Express for offering their teleconferencing facility in Brussels so that our traveling students could share their learning with students back at Smith. Go FedEX!!!! This event was an incredible real-time learning experience! Thank you to UNC and the efforts of Bjorn Hennings, manager of the Carolina Center for Educational Excellence. We appreciate all you did to make the connection. Thank you to Rebekah Cole and Monica Liverman for making arrangements for Smith students.

Journey with us.... will try to send pictures along the way

March 17 - Leave for Paris March 18 - Arrive Paris, rest and explore the city! March 19- Explore Paris March 20- Paris: museums, shopping and Eiffel Tower March 21 - Head for Brussels; meet our pen pals in the "Grand Place"; visit the European Parliament together; head to Liege to spend the night in host families March 22 - Spend the day at Saint-Benoit Saint-Servais- attend classes; my students will love English class; tour Liege, socratic seminar on the EU; spend evening with families March 23 - Early train to Brussels for visitation at European Commission - spend day in Brussels; return to host families March 24- Tour Maastricht and WWII cemetery with families Souper-spectacle that night...what fun! March 25 - Bid adieu to our host families and new friends; on to Brussels to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Signing of the Treaty of Rome March 26- Going home!

Meeting my Fate and Justine ....by Angela

There were just seventeen days left until I would meet my fate. At least that was how I interpreted it. People have praised me, saying that I would be fine there, and that all of my years spent studying French would now finally pay off. And I guess that my three years of middle school French would make me a lot better off than those who had not even studied a year. Perhaps the most nerve-racking part of all was thinking about how I could completely forget all the French I’d learned while I was in Belgium. It would definitely be very different from speaking French in class—I wouldn’t be as comfortable speaking French to complete strangers (and trying not to make any mistakes at all with my limited vocabulary) as speaking French to my friends or my teachers (and knowing that they would understand if I did make a mistake). And then again, I wasn’t the most optimistic person in my class. But I can try to be optimistic about my fate. After all, it would be a great experience—and I could improve my speaking skills as well. And the best part of all would be becoming great friends with Justine Marchal, whose family will be my host family for a week. I have also learned plenty in preparation for our seminars about the European Union, and in preparation for everything else that we will be doing there. I might even be able to say that I have learned more in these two or three months than I have ever in my life. There has also been plenty of excitement in my life during these few months. Anxiety as well, of course. Who couldn’t be both excited and anxious about going to Belgium and living in a host family? And this my excitement and anxiety may well be beyond those of others—this is my first time traveling to Europe, my first time living in a host family, my first time traveling to a country where the official language isn’t English or Chinese. And this excitement and anxiety increases as I count down the days left until I am riding the train from Paris to Brussels. It will continue to increase as we near the train station at Brussels, as I glance around for the face of Justine Marchal and her family, which I have seen only in pictures, as I spot them and try to find a comprehensible sentence or two that I could say to them... And trust me—it’s not like I haven’t had nightmares about this. This is also the first time that I have stopped to ponder about how I will truly miss them when I am forced to board the plane back to Chapel Hill, back to North Carolina, and back to the United States. But that does not mean that all hope is lost for Justine and I to stay friends, even though it will be much more difficult to do so from such far away places. But we will keep in touch. We will try to meet each other—face to face—every year, if possible. We will remain friends, bonded together by a type of friendship that can only truly arise from being unable to see each other whenever we want to. And as for the long-term goals—they are countless. I will have something extra to include in my college resume. I will be able to consider a future abroad, to see if it really fits into my future. I will have a chance to find out if French is really for me. If I had asked one of my Belgian friends what “E.U.” stood for, they would have probably immediately answered, “les États-Unis.” Of course, these three words are French. Translated into English, they mean “the United States,” or rather “the States United.” But here in America, if I had asked perhaps twenty people in Chapel Hill, or rather, anywhere in the United States, what “E.U.” stood for, none of them would have answered “les États-Unis.” And that is because here in the United States of America, “E.U.” is an abbreviation for the European Union. And of those twenty Americans, perhaps only one or two of them would have known that. And it is our duty—that is, the duty of the UNION*—to increase that number by as much as possible. And to help us accomplish this goal, we have all attended the “Euro Club,” which meets every Tuesday after school and every Thursday during lunch, and we have all prepared an “EU journal” with notes from those club meetings. So what exactly is the European Union? It is a family of twenty-seven democratic countries in Europe. They have shared values of democracy, freedom, and social justice. Their mission is to provide peace, prosperity, and stability for its peoples; overcome the divisions on the continent, ensure that its people can live in safety; promote balanced economic and social development; meet the challenges of globalization and preserve the diversity of the peoples of Europe; and uphold the values that Europeans share. But that is simply a basic outline of the goals of the European Union. It does so much more, and deserves so much more credit for doing what it does. The European Union has funded our trip to France and Belgium. And now it is your job to learn more about the EU and to help others learn more about it. Spread the word! *The UNION is made up of the students who will be traveling to Paris, France, and Brussels and Liège, Belgium in March 2007.

Emer's dream

Smith Middle School. It was the 3rd school I’d seen that day and I knew it wouldn’t be the last. The teachers there seemed so friendly, but what really intrigued me was the French Department. Apparently, they were making a trip to Belgium. My friends Olivia had previously told me that her school in England were going to Belgium, but I had never imagined a school in America would go. The name America had gotten as the land of oppertunities was suddenly maing so much more sense! It was from that moment on, I had told myself, if they go to Belgium, and I am taking French, I will be on that trip. Since I found out there was a trip happening it had more meaning to me. It had the meaning of a goal to achieve- a dream.

Another cool design for our T-shirts

Another cool design for our T-shirts
Created by Angela

I know more about the EU than you....Nathalie

I’m so excited! Can you guess why? I didn’t think so. I’m excited because I know more about the EU than you. I have studied really hard, and I have learned that there are many differences between the EU and America. Just to clarify, the EU is the European Union. You will be surprised on how many differences there are between the EU and America. Lucky for you, I will not name them all. But I am going to tell you about some of the main differences. One of the big differences is space. In America people like their personal space and our houses are huge! Well, that’s different in Europe. People live small and close to each other. Their houses are sometimes even connected. In America with our big lawns and big houses, we also have a lot of junk in our houses. Most of it is unnecessary too. In the EU people have what they need. Every day they go to the market to get food. They sometimes skip the bread in the market and go to a bakery to get food. Here in America we go to the grocery store once a week and buy a week’s supply of food. That is also because we have to drive everywhere to get what we want. In Europe they walk or bike to the store and back. That makes it easier for them to go every day. I hope that you have learned from what I have just told you. And if you don’t believe me, just go to one of the countries of the European Union, and you’ll see that everything I’ve said is true. Oh…time really flies by when you’re writing. The bell is about to ring; I have to go! Bye, bye. Nathalie

Thinking About Her Sister's Trip 3 Years ago..Abby's Reflections

Four years ago my sister was given the experience of a lifetime, and ever since then I’ve wanted that experience too. Ms.McMahon has finally given me that opportunity. Before I could wrap my head around it, I would be on a plane heading to my dream destination, France. Though I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time, I’ve never been more nervous and afraid at the same time. Nervous about the plane ride, and afraid of forgetting simple things that I’m going to need to know like “where is the bathroom?” and “what time is it?” I have taken three years to learn this language, all for this experience and if I get all the way to France and forget everything I’ve worked so hard to know it won’t be a pretty sight. I’ve maintained a solid “A” all year long in French, but writing French and speaking French are two completely different things. I am a better writer than a speaker, especially in front of people who grew up speaking French as their first language. I’m sure that this trip is going to be amazing, and an experience of a lifetime but I just can’t be excited when all I can think about is how I’m going to attempt to have a conversation with someone and just draw blanks. When my sister went to France she had the most amazing time, and when she came back she couldn’t stop talking about how she wanted to go back. I wish I could have that, I wish I could be excited and not scared, but I can’t. Seeing my sister in videos of her in France, talking so easily and seeing how she couldn’t stop smiling and laughing, it all just made me want it more. I know that this was going to be an amazing experience after I adjusted to the language and the culture, but until then I stick to being scared out of my mind.

.......from Jenny's heart

I’m either more worried than I should be, or less worried than what’s expected of me in situations like these. No, I’m not talking about a hostage situation or an emergency situation. This situation is traveling to Belgium in only near two weeks, and being thrust into a whole new culture that speaks a complete different language than from what I’m used to in the United States. Just thinking about it gets me a little nervous, a little worried, mostly excited, and just a tiny bit scared. I know that it’s going to be a wonderful experience, touring Paris and speaking French to native speakers. I’m also so excited that I’ll get to see my pen pal, Adrienne, and stay at her family’s home in Liège, Belgium. I always look forward to the emails I send back and forth with my Belgian pen pal, Adrienne. We’ve been communicating together since the beginning of seventh grade in 2005, and I’ve learned a lot about the modern culture and daily routines of kids who are my age who attend school and do activities just like me. Adrienne has always expressed a great hope of seeing the United States in her own eyes sometime, and she states that she would love to see the country she’s heard so much about. I only wish that after I’ve seen her country, I am able to take her to see mine! There are so many differences between the Belgians and the Americans, besides the obvious. I’d like to see how the school system and curriculum in Belgium differs from our North Carolina Standard Course of Study, what games the Belgians do for fun, and what extracurricular activities are offered. When I first signed up to take French as a language in sixth grade, I never dreamed that it would lead to this opportunity to learn more about another culture and broaden my global understanding. But yet, here I am, panicking over how many pairs of socks I’ll need in Belgium and wondering if I’ll make a taboo mistake when I’m talking in French. Another aspect of the trip I’m excited about is going to the headquarters of the EU (the European Union) and learning much more about the EU from European residents under the law of the EU. I’ve learned so, so much since I started my quest for knowledge a few months ago, and I only want to keep expanding this knowledge and put it to good use for the future. Who knows the day when the EU will surpass the United States in power? From the view today, it’s very likely that that will happen. Until March 17th, then!

It's all about being "united in diversity"... Mme McMahon

On the surface it looks like just another funding opportunity for yet another school program. Let it sink in however, $67,000 and it has deep implications as well as benefits of equity and advocacy for students in our school district. In January of this year, the European Union awarded Smith Middle School 51,000 euros (roughly $67,000) for its “Getting to Know Europe” , a proposal I submitted after attending last summer’s EU workshop hosted by UNC’s EU Center of Excellence and World View. These dynamic international organizations invited teachers from around the state to explore and create lesson plans on the EU while sharing this grant opportunity and encouraging teachers to apply. Why has the European Union funded a public school? There are lots of reasons, but the clearest one to me lies in its name: Union. Union means bringing together, sharing knowledge, power, ideas and resources. Union means making choices for the common good. The EU has invited our American students to learn more about their institutions, their system of values that are also shared by our nation, and their being “united in diversity”- a richness of cultures brought together in one body. Nations around the world are drawing lines in the sand – demarcation lines that promote a we versus they mentality- opportunities such as this grant provides, breaks those barriers as students learn how to respect each other’s opinions, value multiple perspectives and honor international relationships while bridging the gap to understanding through language. The cover story for the December 10th issue of Time Magazine emphasizes the need for schools to enter the 21st century by teaching more about our world. Students need to learn how to be “global trade literate, sensitive to foreign cultures and conversant in different languages”. I can teach this from the front of the room, or I can take my students to host families in Belgium where they will experience European life up close and personal. Thanks to the EU grant, many students who used to “watch from the window” as their more affluent classmates boarded the plane to Europe are able to join us on this voyage of self-discovery and new cultures. Six teachers will be traveling from grant funds and are excited about bringing back new lessons for the classroom. How has our “journey of learning” progressed since we received this award? Traveling students have been meeting once a week after school or during lunches to learn not only about the European Union and its institutions but also about how life for a teen in a Europe is similar or different from life in America. With guidance from high school students who speak French well, my students can discuss many topics of EU life in French including: capital punishment, free market system and travel -friendly legislation with the introduction of the Euro. A university professor and local French speakers have visited my classroom to add depth to the studies. We have studied Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream speech” in French so that they can discuss his dream for human rights in America with their Belgian pen pals and compare it to the EU’s mission as well as their own personal dreams. In a few weeks Belgian and American teens will be discussing “shared values” and hopes for the future, not only for their respective countries but also for the world. My students asked, “How do we publicize what we have learned?” After discussions with my Belgian colleague and his students, “Union” came out the front runner for our T-shirts explaining that Union is the same word in English and French and shows that there is strength in unity. My students agreed, two student artists created the logos and all of us will be wearing T-shirts honoring this international friendship. The physical journey begins March 17 as twenty-nine students (26 middle school students and 4 high school students) as well as 6 teachers board the plane for Europe. At least fifteen of the travelers were fully or partially funded by the grant. One student cannot stop smiling as he whispers daily “I am going to see the Eiffel Tower” –one of several economically disadvantaged student travelers who thought that this trip was only for those who could afford it- never dreaming that the EU would pay for this experience of a lifetime. The plane lands in Paris first where we will spend three nights. We will meet our Belgian pen pals at the “Grand Place” in Brussels on the 4th day. This first meeting when the students exchange “la bise” and begin to communicate face to face is one of the most memorable days of my life. They have been corresponding by email or MSN for a few months, but actually witnessing their excitement at seeing each other makes the time and effort for this trip pale in comparison to the joy of watching these young people connect. I can feel myself saying, “ Yes, I can do this again.” With our Belgian hosts we will visit the European Parliament and return to Liege to spend four days with our international families. My students will attend classes at Saint-Benoit Saint-Servais school in Liege, participate in a “rally” of the town, visit Maastricht and the American WWII cemetery and be entertained by the Belgian students for a host-family/American “souper-spectacle” on Saturday night. The American students will return to Brussels on Friday to visit the European Commission, and we will leave Liege to spend one night in a hotel in Brussels on Sunday, March 25th, an important date in EU history because it is the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome. Thanks to the European Union, a journey of learning about international affairs, friendship and self-discovery has begun. My deepest gratitude goes to UNC’s EU Center of Excellence, to World View for all their encouragement and support and to M. Labeye, my Belgian colleague who has worked with me for ten years on this creating successful Exchange Experiences. Robin McMahon French Teacher Smith Middle School Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Willing to go the Distance...by Sarah

A boring bus ride and maybe a stay over night, this is what comes to mind when you think of a 8th grade field trip. Ms. McMahon put a whole new definition in my head of the meaning of what an educational trip can be. Eight hours over seas and a ten night stay in Paris, Belgium, Brussels and many other places. This is a child hood dream that has been granted. This amazing opportunity has become open to the students taking French in Smith Middle School. There is no doubt that this trip will be full of new experiences and life long memories but it scares me out of my mind every time I think about having to talk and stay in a home with a Belgium family. No books, no teacher only what I had learned in class. I am scared that the culture shock will cause me to forget all I have learned or how to say that I DO NOT eat sea food. This only means that I have to work very hard to get the work done. I also have to dedicate lots of time to all my other classes to keep good grades so I am eligible to go. I am willing to go the distance and I am positive that it will all be worth it.