Bienvenue à Québec!

C'est le premier voyage dans le cadre du programme français à l'Université de Cincinnati, Raymond Walters College.

Suivez nos aventures dans cette belle ville historique et capitale de la francophonie en Amérique du Nord!

mardi 5 juillet 2011

Au Revoir Québec, à bientôt...

Today I am leaving Québec City for Montréal where I will attend and present at a conference before returning home to Cincinnati on the weekend. My focus (and my wardrobe!) will change for the next week.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my stay in the capital city for many reasons: speaking French everyday, meeting local people and learning more about regional accents and vocabulary, seeing the region through my students' eyes, getting to know a great group of young people and seeing their language skills improve, meeting and working with the staff at Edu-Inter, being in Canada when the Canadian dollar is worth more than the US dollar(!!), and of course, seeing Will and Kate on their Canadian tour!

I am grateful for this opportunity to create and lead the first RWC French Study Abroad Program in Québec. I owe huge thanks to my students Brittany Ellis, Lee Coleman, Melissa Schmerr and Madelyn Luptowski for taking this inaugural journey with me, to my Department Chair and friend, Debbie Page for her continued support from the very beginning stages of this program all the way to its fruition, to Dean Cady Short-Thompson for her financial and institutional support for both students and faculty in study abroad programs at RWC, and to my family, friends and colleagues who have been encouraging and enthusiastic about in this project and who have kindly followed along with our adventures onthis blog!

Merci beaucoup à tous et à toutes. A la prochaine!!

dimanche 3 juillet 2011

Une Visite Royale à Québec - a connection between RWC French and British Study Abroad Programs!

Today the British once again capture Québec! I saw William and Kate from a not so distant view and it was quite exciting. Sophie and I stood from our vantage point atop the fortified walls of the Lévis Fort across the river from Old Québec. I must admit that I got carried away by emotion when I saw the procession of 8 black BMWs climb up the hill towards a cheering crowd. They entered Fort No. 1, which is the first strategic fort built by the British in 1865-1872 to defend Canada against attacks from the United States. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were then led into an official circle where they did their famous royal "walkabout" which consists of William going in one direction, and Kate in the opposite to shake as many hands and smile at as many people as possible in the short 20 minutes they were there. They then come back together for official photographs, a presentation of flowers and a final wave to the cheering crowds before getting back into their car and whisked away to the airport to fly to Charlottetown, PEI where they will be spending two days and visiting Anne of Green Gables' house and setting of the books which are apparently one of Kate's favourites. They finish their whirlwind Canadian tour in Calgary, Alberta - a mere 3 hours north of where I just moved from - to help Albertans celebrate the annual Calgary Stampede.

Fort No. 1 has been restored and is now a National Historic Site of Canada known as Lévis Forts National Historic Site. This site, together with la Citadelle honour the English Canadian regiments in Québec and their history in this region of Canada. This was a good place for a royal visit and the people around me were very much in favour of this couple.

The royal couple had first made their appearance in this province by visiting Montréal yesterday. They then travelled down the St. Lawrence to Québec City overnight in the Canadian Navy Ship - the HMCS Montreal. This morning they were downtown at the City Hall - l'Hôtel de Ville and to a children's hospital. After a short break, they arrived in Lévis in mid-afternoon.

Despite concerns about anti-royal demonstrations, the events went off without a hitch and only a few protesters at the downtown event who were kept at bay and only seen later on the evening news.

Ah yes, Britain has once again "won" Québec, at least for today.

samedi 2 juillet 2011

Dernier jours et dernières réfléctions...

Well, it is certainly hard to believe that we have already spent two weeks in this wonderful city, immersed in the French language. It has been packed with activity and gone by very quickly.

The last day of language classes for the students included a presentation ceremony where students received certificates and our own Brittany Ellis received the award for top student of the week for her work and improvement in the class. Félicitations Brittany!

Our last night together as a group, we went to the famous restaurant Le Cochon Dingue in the Basse-Ville at the feet of the Château Frontenac. The food and the company were fantastique and it was a great way to celebrate the end of the program and to say bon voyage. We took our last walk to the bus terminal at a leisurely pace, savouring the last look at the lights of the old city as we passed by.

The students have all left Québec now and will be back in the USA for the 4th of July celebrations. What a wonderful experience this has been. I was impressed with our host school Edu-Inter and all of those involved, particularly: Sylvain, Carl, et Philippa. Un grand merci à tous!

Most of all, I am impressed with my students. Not only did their proficiency improve in French, but they all demonstrated a huge increase in confidence when speaking with native speakers in all contexts, including when they were out by themselves. They engaged with local culture and customs and learned about the rich history in this region of the country. I had the pleasure of getting to know a small group of my students in a more intimate way and to share my country with them. This was a very meaningful experience for me. The début of this brand new study abroad program in French certainly exceeded my expectations. I very much hope that the program will go again next summer, but I will always hold a special place for this first time, with this first group of students who were willing to take a chance with me and come to Canada to learn French. Un grand merci à Brittany, Lee, Melissa et Madelyn!

A mes étudiants: Vous avez tous fait d'excellent progrès en français et dans vos appréciations de la culture francophone-canadienne. Je suis très fière de vous tous et c'était mon plaisir de vous avoir accompagnés à Québec. Vous avez représenté Cincinnati et les Etats-Unis avec honneur. Au plaisir de travailler avec vous encore l'année prochaine à UCBA!

vendredi 1 juillet 2011

Bonne fête au Canada!

Since I've been living in the USA, I have missed spending Canada's birthday in my native land and it was great for me (and I hope my students too) to be here in Québec, where Canada was first discovered, for both the Provincial and Federal holidays this year. I knew that June 24 (la St Jean) would be a much bigger deal here than July 1 (Canada Day), and I was pleasantly surprised to see the Maple Leaf flying, a giant birthday cake on la Terrasse Dufferin made by Château Frontenac chefs and an assortment of Canadian license plates driving around for the long weekend. This is the kick off to the summer season in Canada, and Québec City changes a bit from this point. For one thing, there are more international tourists here. I noticed this right away today walking through the old city - I heard English, really for the first time in these two weeks. Le Festival d'été gets underway this month too (after the Montréal Jazz Festival winds down) with headlining band Métallica sure to bring in crowds of all nationalities.

Another big deal here this Canada Day weekend is the royal visit of Prince William and Princess Catherine on Sunday. While newspapers have been speculating the anti-royalist protesters will be out in full force to show their distaste for all things British, I have also read that the Québécois are quite smitten, like the rest of the country and the world, with Will and Kate. We will get to sample the climate first hand as we attempt to catch of a glimpse of them at the Hôtel de Dieu.

We saw fireworks this weekend at the Québec Capitales (AAA league) baseball game where they creamed the Worcester Hurricane 9-1. It was great to watch baseball on a pleasant summer evening, sing the national anthem in French and learn baseball terminology in French. There were plenty of circuits (home runs) and a grande victoire shared by all.

Les beaux-arts sont bien vivants à Québec

I have been to many art museums in my travels and have appreciated something different from each one of them. The art museum in Québec is no exception.

A short walk from the College, we walked to the museum as a group this week on a sunny afternoon through Battlefield Park. Although not very big, the Museum is divided in to three wings, one of which is a former women's prison which has kept and restored several of its cells to be on display. One wing is dominated by works by Jean-Paul Riopelle, well known surrealist and later abstract realist painter from Montréal who died in 2002. Although I had heard distantly about Riopelle, I had never knowingly seen his work. His most famous piece was a three part mural entitled: Hommage à Rosa Luxemburg which is a tribute to his former lover Joan Mitchell, an American painter who died in 1992.

Other highlights of the museum include Canadian painters and sculptors who were inspired by their contemporary cubist (Picasso) and nature morte (still life - Cézanne) artists in Europe.

The exhibit on Inuit art is the museum's pièce de résistance. Carvings from a diverse population of Northern Canadian artists using all matter of stone materials are masterfully displayed in a cool and well lit room.

Oui c'est bien vrai - l'art est bien vivant à Québec!

jeudi 30 juin 2011

Le Cirque du Soleil sous les étoiles (et un peu de pluie) de Québec

Last night we had the opportunity to see the world famous Cirque du Soleil perform live, outside under the highways of Québec City. We all stood on uneven, gravel ground in the drizzle for about two hours to see the show. It was all worth it - What a treat!

Many people don't realize that the Cirque du Soleil is québécois by nationality. Founded in 1984 by two Quebec street performers, the company is based out of Montréal now and is world renowned, particulary in Las Vegas where it now has two permanent shows. It is described as "contemporary circus because of its "theatrical, character-driven approach and the absence of performing animals" . It really is a combination of acrobats, circus and street performance with a live musical soundtrack.

Paying hommage to their humble roots, the Cirque offers free one-hour shows every evening during the summer months in Québec City. I read that this also provides good training ground and practice for junior members and for the troupe to try out new shows and ideas.

Je vous invite au spectacle - C'est magnifique!

mardi 28 juin 2011

Les Fantômes à Québec...

Did you know that Québec is haunted by its past? Maybe not in the way you might think!

Québec City has one of the most colourful histories of Canadian cities. As the site of the "official" loss of Canada to the English, Québec has its share of stories. In addition, as a new and struggling colony, the city suffered hardships from the cold, lack of food and long distance between the mother country.

Tonight we took la Promenade des Fantômes (the Ghost Walk), and we were treated Stories of murder, treason, unlawful condemnation and general mayhem as we walked along winding cobblestone streets, up and down stairs and hills between the Upper and Lower towns. Our guide was a costumed interpreter with a dramatic flare for storytelling and carrying a period lantern to light our way as the sun set in the city and darkness swifly fell.

The visit finished with a visit inside a haunted cathedral. As we waited to enter, the previous group, high school students, came running out screaming in terror. Wimpy sorts like me got spooked and it made for a very interesting ambiance inside the dark sanctuary. I was grateful for my students' protection! Brittany was very brave to stay at the end of the pack to take some pictures inside the dark church. Check out her posting to the right for her photos!

This was a very enjoyable way to spend a summer evening in a beautiful, historic city and to practice listening comprehension in French. Although many words were unfamiliar, the dramatic manner and visual clues helped students with their comprehension.

Les fantômes à Québec? On n'en a pas vu mais la lanterne du guide s'est éteinte mystérieusement au beau milieu d'un conte...