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Vive la France trip

Photo provided by Ni Adoagain
The gargoyles high on the top of the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral keep a stony watch over the bustling city of Paris, France and its people.

“Explore. Dream. Discover,” wrote novelist Mark Twain. The students in French 203 class got the opportunity of a lifetime to live his words by exploring and discovering France over spring break with French instructor Honora Ni Adoagain.

The students, their instructor and chaperons Cheryl and Dan Yoder, UCC’s Athletic and I.T. Directors respectively, spent 10 days in France exploring Paris, Versailles, the catacombs and various sites pertaining to the French Revolution.  The group toured France’s neighborhoods, museums and monuments. They tasted the food, experienced nightlife and collected hundreds of pictures.

Photo provided by Charles Crosier
The catacombs below Paris hold a silent vigil.

Challenges arose such as using France’s subway system, learning how to navigate and scheduling plans. “We all had to learn how best to move about as a group and quickly learned that small groups were easier, and only one planned activity per day, so that those students who wanted to explore on their own could. Obviously, the work of communicating in French to get your needs met was very challenging but also exhilarating when the students were successful,” said Ni Adoagain, associate professor of world languages, in an email interview.

The experiences outweighed the challenges. “To stand in front of the great works of art that I have studied and taught to my students was magnificent; and really just to walk the streets where great writers and poets lived and worked was fantastic. The one thing that I had not expected was to be able to see the room where Marie Antoinette spent the last months of her life. That was powerful,” said Ni Adoagain.

Photo taken by Hannah Lee
The French group enjoys dinner at a cafe in Paris.

Charles Crosier, a student on the trip, found a little piece of history tucked out of the way in a back alley. “It was our last day in the Marais quarter, also known as the Jewish quarter, and Victor Hugo’s house was a short walk. Ni Adoagain approached me and said, ‘Do you want to do the Victor Hugo walk? Do you want to learn more about it?’ I said, ‘Of course.’ And where we were staying, if you walk down the street, the church that his daughter got married at was actually still there. The basins that were donated to the church so that she could be married there were still there-- all intact. And we went down a side street after seeing this, and on the wall was a tiny plaque. As Ni Adoagain and I are both history buffs, we were totally in awe. This little plaque commemorated Marie Antoinette’s best friend, the prison she was held at and where she was killed in a back alley in the middle of nowhere. We came across it completely by accident. We would have had no idea it was there, and we were both so excited.”

Photo taken by Ni Aodagain
Three students stand at the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Ni Adoagain encourages all students to travel if possible. “It helps us understand that we are all the same, no matter our culture and background, and that it is not so difficult to live together on this planet if we take the time to understand just a little bit about someone else’s culture, and to share your own.”

The students presented their experiences through a slide-show presentation May 29 at UCC’s Whipple Fine Arts Centerstage.

Photos of Versailles and the Eiffel Tower provided by Charles Crosier
Photo of Paris street provided by Ni Adoagain