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Un voyage à Montréal
Smiles for the camera as students wait for dinner at a Montreal restaurant. Left to right: Andrea Benya, Rebecca Maifeld, Angela O’Leary, Morgan Gordon, Kristen Arsenault, Caleb Gauvin, Josh Rainey, Noah Tanguay-Collins and Tory Giberson. (Photo by Cam Welch)
RUMFORD -- Where can high school students go to speak French, learn about a different culture and not break their parents’ bank? Our neighbor to the north provides such an adventure.
Mountain Valley and Dirigo High School students traveled 4.5 hours by coach bus to Montreal for a weekend. They had the opportunity to use the French they have learned in Mesdames Catherine Charles’ and Mary Kaubris’ French classes.
Sophomore Ellie Hall said, “Most people speak both French and English. I tried to order dinner in French but they speak so fast it was difficult.”
After arriving in Montreal on Friday, the 23 students and their chaperones took a guided tour of the city. The highlights of the tour included policemen on horses, students protesting increased tuition, Jacques Cartier Square, Notre Dame Basilica and a ride around a Formula 1 racetrack.
On Saturday morning, the group went to the Biodome that featured four different ecosystems, The Botanical Garden and the Olympic Tower, the world’s tallest inclined tower.
“I really liked the Olympic center,” Hall recalled. “They have a tower that goes up 165 meters at a 45 degree angle and you can see the whole city. It’s really amazing.”
After the organized tour, the students were turned loose within walking distance of the hotel.
Josh Rainey, a junior in Honors French 3, said that he enjoyed the free time to go “shopping, exploring, whatever we'd like to do.”
Hall agreed, “I really liked the shopping on St. Catherine’s street. I got a shirt and jacket.”
But the best was yet to come.
Saturday night, the group experienced French Canadian food and culture at "Sucrerie de la Montagne,” a traditional Quebec sugar shack. The experience was a memorable one for most of the students.
“It was home cooked food with log cabins all around and homemade maple syrup,” described Victoria Giberson, another junior in Honors French 3. “The boys played the spoons, then the girls did. I got to lead the dance train! Then we got to see Madame Charles and Madame Kaubris dance. Finally, for desert we had pancakes with their maple syrup, which was the best I have ever had!”
Rainey agreed, “The food was different, but the entertainment was the highlight. Something different than what we're used too, but it is definitely something I would enjoy doing again.”
“One of my favorite parts of the trip was going to the Sugar Shack,” said Hall. “The home cooked meal was served family style. We played the spoons.”
Playing the spoons is literally using table spoons to create a percussion instrument similar to castanets. While the custom is believed to have come from Ireland, many cultures use the spoons as an expensive form of entertainment.
The next morning, before the journey home, the students sampled the wares at a farmers’ market. They enjoyed fresh fruits, vegetables and meats.
Hall described, “They made maple syrup stuff. I sampled a galette – a buckwheat pancake, egg, cheese and spinach. It was delicious!”
Asked about advice to other student travelers, Rainey was amazed by the taxes. “I advise other high school students to be open to different aspects of life, food and living. It's not the same, but it's fun and something I look forward to doing again. Bring a decent amount of money, just enough to have fun, but not enough to get in trouble. The prices are a little overwhelming, so expect to pay a lot. It's mostly just in tax money, though.”
“I would definitely tell people to go to Montreal. It is a great experience to see how other cultures live. I want to go back already!” Giberson added.
The students included Elizabeth Adley, Jared Arsenault, Kristin Arsenault, Andrea Benya, Bathilde Beteille, Katie Collette, Caleb Gauvin, Tory Giberson, Morgan Gordon, Ellie Hall, Matthew Irish, Sarah Klein, Karissa Kneeland, Rebecca Maifeld, Josh Mason, Dalton Milledge, Angela O’Leary, Abbey Pinkham, Josh Rainey, Lance Richard, Noah Tanguay-Collins, Cam Welch and Brooke Young.
Charles arranged the itinerary and appreciates the help of Kaubris and the eight parent chaperones. The chaperones included Susan Adley, Marie Gauvin, Janet Hall, Linda Klein, Vicky Milledge, Tracy Pinkham, Tracy Rainey and Janine Young.
Students paid the cost of the trip.