Group 2 | Voyage à Nantes [2022]

Waring’s 9th Grade in Nantes and Northern France

Sketching, Writing… (to be updated throughout)

Arras, Trenches, Paths of Glory (1957, Kubrick)

Dark and fear is packed into these walls. The cold dirt and stone that cage this space in is filled with the feeling of claustrophobia. Imagining soldiers packed into these tunnels, although big to a small group, it would feel small to the thousands of people passing through here. The waiting must have killed souls before they even made it to the front lines. Drawings to pass the time set into walls- preserved history giving these nameless men elongated life long after they are gone. As the headset tells the story of these lost lives, I look at the ceiling and think about when Above was a battlefield and the sound of gunshots rattled the ground. As the same sounds echo into my ears, I shiver and walk away from the cold reality of history, because I have the luxury of being able to. Olive L-M

When we watched the movie last night, it was portrayed heavily through the generals’ point of view. Soldiers were expendable; they were used as pawns–sacrifices–in a game they couldn’t win. They either died on the battlefield by the hand of the enemy, or at the firing squad at the hands of their comrades.  But as I was walking through the trenches earlier today, I paid attention to the little details like the makeshift toilets, the leftover liquor bottles, and the kitchen where the men would make meals for each other.  And it was here where I began to remember that these men were human beings. Evan Smith

I personally loved the monument for the Canadian soldiers. The surrounding indents in the earth from the artillery made the experience seem so much more real. It was interesting to see how the grass grew over the land again. It made it deceivingly beautiful. The statues on the monument also added to the experience. The statues also were very beautiful. The statues sadness and pain could be felt very clearly. The craters were so big. I have seen the movie 1917 and was surprised to see that the land was actually like it was in the movie. It must have been very scary to have been there while the craters were being created. -Eli Bayer

Today we visited another WWI museum. We all wore helmets and got to go 60 feet underground and walk through the real tunnels used by French soldiers to make sneak attacks on the Germans. The photos and videos projected onto the rock walls really immersed you into the time and place. There were silhouettes of soldiers running around, and it really felt like you were there in that moment but also portrayed the soldiers as ghost of the past and nothing but memory. It was a chilling, impactful experience. So far through all the things we’ve seen and learned about WWI, I’ve been thinking about all the young men forced to die in a war that promised heroism but had no regards for the value of their own life. It’s hard to think about the false narrative they were fed that they would bring glory to their name on the battlefield, and then be met with the harsh reality in the form of inevitable death.  -Drew Orr

The trip yesterday to the World War 1 museum yesterday was very impactful. Being able to see the actual uniforms of the soldiers on all sides of the war made it suddenly feel all the more real. I’ve heard a lot about World War 2 before but never really about the first one in as much detail. I was shocked to hear the casualty rate throughout the war was as high as it was. One of the most surprising facts that I learned was that there were still potentially dangerous unexploded shells in certain areas from all the way back, more than a hundred ears ago. And that they pull up many tons of those shells each year. -Max Crafton
 
There are blue and red petals scattered across the ground from the plastic flower wreaths that surround the wooden cross on top of the boardwalk. The boardwalk surrounds the entire crater and each board holds a name. The crater is impossibly deep, and very steep as well. It would be difficult to walk into it because it is so steep but I suppose that you could if you really wanted to. Thorn bushes wrap around the edge of the crater instead of a railing and there are a few trees on one side of it as well. Greenish gray grass covers the crater, but I know that the grass is a product of the crater’s age. Half of the crater is shaded from the sun by the other side of it. Around the crater the landscape is fields that seem to go on forever. This place has a peaceful feel to it, it’s calm, it’s beautiful, it’s hard to imagine that so many people died here. – Caitlyn Miller
 
It’s weird over in the states learning about the world wars. Although the loss of American lives is not understated in the school systems, there is no where we can easily go to see monuments or memorials, and sometimes pictures don’t suffice. It’s weird, sitting on the grass, looking around at the roving hills, listening to my friends chatter, that here, right here, soldiers fought, fell, and died. I thought to myself, how can a place where so much death happened be so serene and beautiful just 100 years later? And it all happened right here. Right where I stand, sit, and walk. I saw a cross that said “on this spot” someone’s body was found. There was a person who died RIGHT THERE.  It just doesn’t feel quite real. Miranda Cotter-Holland
 
Nantes et environs
 
Today, we visited the slave memorial in Nantes. Though France was not a big slave country, Nantes was big in the slave trade. It was my second time visiting as I went with my correspondent yesterday, however this time I was able to reflect on what I was able to learn in writing. After this I sad down with Tim Averill to have a meaningful talk about how the trip has gone and how the trip will hopefully continue.  I am looking forward to the activities we have planned in the future but also trying to stay in the moment. – Henry Carlson-Lier
 
In response to “robbed of their humanity”: Enslaved people were not treated as part of the human race. What does it mean to be human?  To me, it means that I am given free will to live my life as I choose. Funny how the word “free” snuck into the definition of humanity. Do freedom and humanity go hand in hand?  Does one have to be free to be human?  Does one have to be human in order to be free?  This is logic oppressors used to justify slavery: if enslaved people are inhuman, they cannot be free.  My question is: were these people seen as human before they became enslaved, or were they never seen as human to begin with? Evan Smith
 
Today we went to a building at Clisson. It was very, very old. Everything here in France seems to be older.  When we got to the building, we used an app to walk around. We also tried to trade a potato for a more valuable gift. At first, we did no make any trades, though Romain had already acquired a working phone. Our first trade was for a coca cola trinket. At the end, we had a blanket and a loaf of stale bread. -Eli Bayer
 

“Today I had French and English class. After that we went to a slave museum and I learned that around 1.5 million slaves died in transport alone. Which is insane. After that I sat next to Lola and we talked and sketched the trees and buildings. During the 30 minutes of free time, we walked to a bakery and then ate croissants in front of a water fountain. Which honestly all sounds like a dream. Then we walked back to school and I met my correspondent, Louna, and we took the bus back home. At around seven, Louna and I baked a cake and at around 7:30/8 we ate dinner. It was meatballs and rice. It was very good. Between the time I came back home and when we baked the cake I called my parents for the first time since we left Boston. I found that speaking English is difficult too. I keep stuttering or accidentally saying something in French. That’s not to say my French is particularly good, I just think I’ve started failing both languages (Just kidding).” – Zoe Waller

My day was very good. I had some amazing food, and the resection was very fun. After the Mayor’s reception, Natalia, and Sebby and I hung out with our correspondents and some of their friends, doing funny dances and having fun. For dinner, Romain and I had some bread and yogurt, and it was very yummy. This trip is getting better every day, and  I cannot wait for the next few days. – Colin Vellante

After school today my correspondent and I walked to the very well known restaurant in Nantes called La Cigale. This was some what of a surprise to me because I thought we were going there for dinner that night but apparently they had said lunch, miscommunications like this happen a lot because of the language difference which results in lots of surprise plans. At the restaurant we met up with Hana’s dad and and soon after we sat down her grandparents showed up too. The waiter came right away to our table and everyone seemed to already know what they wanted except for me since o didn’t get what anything on the menu was, so we told the waiter to come back in a few minutes. But when the waiter came back I was still not ready to order so without knowing exactly what I was ordering I ordered the same thing three other people had gotten, only knowing it was some type of meat. About 15 minutes later the waiter came to our table with one of the trays they use for setting the dishes on, and came back a minute later with the food, but to my surprise he had brought out 4 big balls or raw red meat. I first wondered where the stove was for cooking the meat but when he started mixing in some spices and sauces in a bowl with the meats I realized this was going to be raw, I was really nervous to eat this because it looked really gross. They served it out on to plates and everyone dug in, I was really hesitant to eat it but I didn’t want to be of any trouble so I took a bite, to my surprise it wasn’t that bad, but it also wasn’t good so I ate every bite followed with a bite of fries or a drink of water. Looking back over the menu after to pick a dessert I looked at what I had ordered and realized it was Tartare. Though I didn’t like my food it was very enjoyable to be there with Hana and her family.  – Lyda Simpson

It’s so windy up here, I can’t draw anymore because my hands are so cold. I might as well write. We are waiting for the ferry to arrive to pick us up to go somewhere. I forget where they said so I don’t know. The wind is rushing through my shirt and I am extremely cold and uncomfortable but I am choosing not to quiver in this relentless wind. I am sitting on this bench that is about 75% of the way up this big hill. I can see so much of Nantes from up here and I’m sitting in front of this approximately 30 foot drop to what I think is a dock for the ferry but I could be wrong (I was wrong) I can only see the top of a shed with a curved roof and the rest is water. But it’s just a channel and on the other side, there are building and this massive gray crane (for launching ferries). There are these metal ringlets round 25 feet apart and I have no idea what they are for, I’ll probably find out later (Edith says that the are an art project.) Sebby Wells

Today we explored more of the city, walking, picture taking, etc. We played this brilliant game where we were given a potato and had to run around shops trading this potato to see who could get the best item. We managed to get two potatoes, and as a result ended up with a bag, a necklace, a Hawaiian shirt, and a book. From there we ate, got Starbucks with some friends, and then headed to Theatre. Actually, we played some musical games at Hell fest before that.
It was during theater that I made my realization: before coming to this trip I was terrified to be in a foreign country without my parents let alone in a household where no one fluently spoke my 1st/native language for so long. Yet, not once have I felt sad because I was here: I’ve loved every moment of this visit. When someone asked me how many days left I had in France, a strange sadness over took me. I don’t want to leave. As much as I love and miss my parents, I do not want to go home yet. Only four more days with Diane and her family?! It’s not long enough!! I’ll miss them all when I’m home! – Lola Prendergast

Au revoir

Bye to Nantes
Oh people of Nantes
With thy Love I name
But these tears I gave
I am sad
Tis a pity
Goodbye Victor
Goodbye host family
Goodbye correspondents
With thy tears I have
But thy Love I give
Goodbye to Nantes
Nas Oufi

I think the thing that will stay with me the most is how welcoming the family was. From the first night we were able to have a good conversation, which is important for me, and it was never awkward at any time. This had been one of my worries that we would be sitting around at dinner hearing only the sounds of forks scraping up the food, but this never happened. From the first day everyone seems so interested with what I had to say, and loved to hear me speak both French and English.
This last weekend we didn’t do much but I feel like I connected so much more with my correspondent. We spent the whole weekend playing Mario kart, staying up late and sleeping in late, eating good food and talking and laughing a lot.
– Lyda Simpson

I am sad to part with my host family after such a great week. We traveled all over Nantes, and I was immersed in the beauty of French culture. Over the weekend I got to go to Brittany and have a picnic by the water. They got me a special bowl with my name on it, which I’m still unclear on the significance of, apparently it’s a tradition over there. I also ran in the Odyssey a 5K, which was super fun. Some of the highlights of this week for me were the abolishment of slavery memorial, the machines dirt museum, and the lobby notes. I found myself in deep reflection while at these locations especially in the slavery memorial, where I really dug deep into what it means to be human. My favorite sites to see where the city at night, standing over the city atop a large parking garage, looking across the water. It was these places where I felt the most alive. -Evan Smith

World War II sites in Normandy

17 to 35 are the most frequent ages I see on the hundreds of gravestones. Some make it to 40. But that is rare. The engravings from close family and friends break my heart as they wish the people they love goodbye without ever being able to see them. Lives cut short and most often early June lives that barely lived 1944 June. This date I guess was a massacre. British and German alike. Olive Lyons-McLin

Chenonceau, Angers… and Logan Airport !

Mont Saint-Michel

World War II Sites: Normandie

Bayeux Cathedral, British Cemetery nearby, German Cemetery in La Cambe, Youth Hostel in Granville, Avranches Gold Beach, American Cemetery in Colleville, Pointe du Hoc

Ce n’est qu’un “Au revoir”, Nantes !

Photo Contest Winners!

June Bogoch (First Place), Colin Vellante and Eli Bayer (Runners Up), Olive Lyons-McLin (Prix d’Honneur)

La Mairie (town hall), village de Clisson and “Hell Fest” Music Festival Site

La “Chasse au trésor” à Nantes (avec les correspondents)

Au Lycée Jules Verne, Nantes

Memorial de l’abolition de l’esclavage – Nantes

Cathédrale de Rouen

(Not so) hostel environments – Amiens hostel, Rendezvous with Nantes Families in Nantes

World War I Sites: Northern France, Arras

Excerpt from All Quiet on the Western Front in trenches of northern France

Cathédrale d’Amiens et Somme

Arrivée et la ville de Compiègne