Sunday, July 8, 2012

Happy 4th from Brest!

We may not have had an excursion this week, but we sure were busy!  For a week or so, we have been practicing singing the Marseillaise and the Star-Spangled Banner for the Fourth of July ceremony at Brest's American monument.  It is quite an official event involving the ceremonial placing of flower bouquets, a salute from the French navy, and a moment of silence to recognize those who have died.  The stagiaires sang beautifully, and we even appeared on television later that day.
 Amy and Anuj carried the flowers offered by "Stage Indiana" (the name we use in France for the Honors Program)
Everybody lining up and getting last minute jitters!

After the ceremony, we had a reception dinner for the stagiaires and their host families.  The food was a mix of French and American - we started with an apéritif/"cocktail" with fruit juices, Breizh cola, and small snacks, followed by an entrée buffet with potato, vegetable, and fruit salads.  Next was the main course - grilled meats (chicken, ribs, sausages) with fries and vegetables.  We had a huge cake as a dessert, followed by coffee and marshmallow roasting.
Bonding with a host brother!

 Our stagiaires have some crazy little siblings here in France!

A new tradition, sneaking the "American Tradition" hardhat onto unsuspecting diners.  (It's hard to explain; needless to say, our stagiaires are inventive people!)

The next day we started classes a little late, because dinner went until midnight!  And again, we keep those stagiaires busy, because Thursday night was our special lesson in Breton dancing.  Brest may be chilly (with a high of 60F most days lately!), but we danced enough to finally feel too warm.  There are several main Breton dances, many of which involve either linking hands or pinkies and then slowly moving in a circle.  Others are partner dances with a fair amount of swinging around.  We had a lot of fun, although it's hard to take pictures that really capture what the dancing looks like!

Learning to spin is probably the hardest part!  And of course, we have so many more girls than boys that almost everyone gets to both lead and follow in the dances.

Friday evening was an optional activity for the stagiaires - a party for tweens and teens at a neighborhood association (it's a little like a chaperoned school dance in the United States).  

Next week we are starting to really prep for our departure - designing a T-shirt, working on our farewell show, thinking about what will go in our magazine - it's a lot of work!  We will also have an excursion to the Pointe des Espagnols and Quimper on Tuesday, as well as a boat ride on Monday afternoon and a bowling party later this week.

All the best from Team Brest!

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