A visit to the territory where the language is spoken is an extremely important part of any language learning experience. It stimulates empathy for the language and culture being learned, but it also gives students the exposure they need to perform better at Advanced Level examniations.
During the week in Martinique, the group spent three days attending class at Lycée Montgérald in Le Marin and two days having cultural and University visits. The week-end was spent with their host families.
Students were hosted in families, all different in style, and all very welcoming to the young St Lucians: One father was even a professional clown and this student for sure had good fun at dinner table, some families took “their” Lucian for a boat ride, to a family reunion, a sports competition, to church, shopping, touring… Each student experienced a different way of living, parenting and three course meal every day, with fork and knives! And of course all of them tasted the traditional Galette des Rois.
At the College, they attended classes in French from Math and Physical Education to… English, from 7h30 to 5h, a total immersion that sometimes gave them a headache. In order to thank the host, the Principal Mrs. Marc and the coordinator Mrs. Samuella Hippolyte, the St Lucian students offered a show to Martiniquan students and teachers.
After singing the National Anthem, the students commented on a Power Point presentation about St Lucia, translated the song “Rameen” and discussed the introduction of VAT, sang Chanté Nwel in creole (Pelay) and in French. For the grand finale they performed a Masquerade dance. A Standing ovation! A long term cooperation agreement was signed between the Lycée Montgérald and SALCC for further common action. In March, SALCC will welcome the Martiniquan students; it will be time to reciprocate.
The two days of visits were the occasion to tour important sites such as the Village de la Poterie in Trois Islets and taste the famous French “Pâtisserie pur beurre”, the Museum of Le Diamant – and explore the famous Diamond Rock, once property of the English Empire, the Slavery Memorial of Anse Cafard. A tour of Fort de France offered explanations on why the statue of the Imperatrice Joséphine (wife of Napoléon) and located in la Savanne has no head. Of course shopping was done in Fort-de-France guided by the past students. Finally to relax, the students watched – in French – the latest French film comedy: De l’autre côté du Périph with the star Omar Sy at the Madiana cinema complex and had dinner at a restaurant.
But the main objective of the trip was a half day visit to the Université des Antilles Guyane guided by SALCC past students currently attending UAG. Complete information was provided by Dr Martin including the absence of fees for foreign students and the range of subjects offered at UAG from Medecine, Engineering, Law to Spanish and Teaching.( www.univ-ag.fr). The past students gave a tour of the amazing Library and the nice rooms on Campus and of course we shared a student meal at the UAG restaurant! Three Upper 6 students this year are registering at UAG: wish them good luck.
There is no doubt that the trip was beneficial at all levels: personal enrichment, language immersion, projects for the future. The St Lucian students were fully appreciated both at the college and in the families; they were ambassadors for the country.
The French Club of SALCC would like to thank the generous sponsors who made this trip possible: SALCC, French Embassy for the OECS member states, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, Plumbing Plus, Marintek St. Lucia, ECFH, SLASPA, SOL, Tropical Builders Ltd. Thank you to Mrs Edwin for her assistance in putting the Chanté Nwel Show together and to all the places who invited us to perform in their location for our fundraising Christmas Chanté Nwel.
Testimony from students
At the school, the students of Saint Lucia were given a bad impression of the food at the “cantine” and were advised not to eat there. Many students describe it as being “bad”. The students however were given the chance to experience a lunch meal at the canteen and found it rather delicious. The setting was very unique and the food tasted okay. They were also served with ice cream as desert and some had more than one! Food is served on a plastic tray rather than bowls/plates for everyone and it normally comprises of rice, meat, some salad, bread and ice cream or Galette (cake) for desert.
The way it works is that all students have a canteen card where they swipe the day before in order to get lunch for the next day. If this is not done, when students are checked before entering the canteen at the front door, they will not be allowed in and are sent away…hungry!
Students at the Lycée Montgérald study a wide variety of subjects and begin class at 7:30 am and end at 5:00 pm every day, except for Wednesday which is a half-day. It is obligatory for all students to study Mathematics and English. Other subjects offered include History-Geography, French, Physics-Chemistry, Sports, Spanish, Portuguese, Life and Earth Science and Environmental and Social Science.
My family was the Rivierez family that comprises of eight members, the grandmother who lives downstairs, the mother, Mrs. Rivierez and her seven children (a set of twins and five other children) however, only the twins live at home with her. They have a dog named Canelle. The family is in the lovely countryside of Régale, Vignette, Rivière-Pilote in Martinique. The family attends the evangelical church. The twins are sixteen years old and they attend the Montgerald College which starts at 7:30 am to 4 or 5:00 pm, on Monday to Friday. The family proved to be very friendly and hospitable during the exchange program.
On weekends the family eats together near the television for lunch and dinner and on the weekdays they eat dinner together. The mother’s job is a caretaker of babies and one elderly woman and she was very hospitable. Their home is fairly large with several extensions and is very cosy on the inside. The twins Marie-Gladys and Marie-Jessie Rivierez love the English language and often spoke among themselves even better with the help of a St.Lucian native. The family loves music and most times the house would be filled with melody and singing. All in all, this matrifocal family comprised a set of very nice and welcoming individuals which made my stay in Martinique an enlightening stay!
We visited some of the tourist attractions such as LE DIAMANT, MEMORIAL DE L’ANSE CAFFARD and VILLAGE de la POTERIE. I was really fascinated by watching the man making a clay jar. It was really amazing to see how quickly he constructed the jar.
I think everyone will agree with me when I say that we enjoyed the little shopping time that we got to in Fort de France. In addition I believe that this trip has allowed us as a French class to become closer and to get to know each other a little better.
On this trip I had a chance to live like a French person. I lived with a wonderful family who were not afraid to make sure that the purpose of my trip was met. This was to speak French throughout the week I was in Martinique. Attending school with my correspondent was a nice experience all in all. I got a chance to make new friends and to meet people from different ways of life. On this trip I also realised that I understand French more than I thought I could!
One of the first places we visited was “Le Village de la Poterie” in Trois Ilets, in which even the roads are made of clay. It” was quite a treat as it was such a beautiful place filled with lovely boutiques selling items such as hand crafted pottery, locally made soaps and spices, as well as souvenirs.
The next place we visited was the “Espace Muséographique Bernard David” in Diamant. This museum was very interesting as it not only taught us some aspects of Diamant’s history but it also made us discover a series of Martiniquan , French and St. Lucian proverbs funny but which were also fraught with lots of hidden meanings and lessons. Afterwards, we were treated to live video footage of “Le Rocher Du Diamant” and then a walk on the jetty, with its breath-taking view of le Rocher.
Another place we visited was “Le Memorial de L’Anse Caffard”. This area was a memorial site a shipwreck, in which many smuggled enslaves died and were buried on the site. This visit was quite sad but the area was beautiful.
Our final few visits were centred in Fort-de- France: “La Savane”, where we learned the interesting story behind the headless statue of “L’Impératrice Josephine”. We then moved on to the “Bibliotheque Schoelcher” that stands proudly in Fort- de-France as it boasts wonderful architecture and lots of age and prestige.
All in all, I am very pleased to say that the trip was a success and that I enjoyed every second of it. Thank you so much for all contributions.”