Our return visit to ‘Collège Jean-Mermoz’ in Faches-Thumesnil, Lille
Arriving at 10.30am having travelled through the night by coach and ferry the Whitley Academy students coped remarkably well. After a very warm welcome which included some amusing drama sketches prepared by the French students, there was a fact finding hunt around the school. Gifts exchanged, it was time for lunch, a menu prepared especially for their English visitors.
The afternoon was dedicated to three group lessons taking part in lessons learning about World War I, Eco-Schools and Designing their ideal school after a quiz to learn about the differences between our two schools. Finally, some of the students played a mini basketball tournament before we headed off to check into the hotel.
Saturday kicked off with a guided tour around Lille before the students and teachers were given some free time to explore the sights further by themselves, do some shopping and/or taste the delights of French cuisine.
Sunday started with a few student nerves apprehensive about going off to spend the day with the French students’ families. However, on returning they had clearly had had a great time and students were heard saying it was the best day of the trip so far, how much they had enjoyed it and how much French they had spoken!! Some had been rock climbing, others bowling, visiting a Buddist temple, eating out in local restaurants, playing video games, some true Anglo-French friendships formed.
After packing up and leaving the hotel, the last day was spent again with the French school visiting three cemeteries along the coast of France and Belgium to commemorate 100 years since the start of the First World War. We paid our respects by reading poems together, laying a wreath where many British soldiers were buried and singing songs with the help of French student musicians.
The Canadian monument at ‘Crête-de-Vimy’ was incredible and untouched by the Germans in the Second World War due to Hitler having fought there in the First World War. The scarred landscape from the perpetual bombing and explosions is now covered with Principal: Mrs L Allen BSC. Hons. MBA. FRSA Abbey Road, Coventry, CV3 4BD Telephone: 024 7630 2580 Fax: 024 7663 9352 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.whitleyacademy.com Fulfilling potential, achieving excellence, broadening opportunity thousands of pine trees planted to honour the Canadian soldiers - one for every life lost and new trees planted every time one dies to ensure every soldier whose name is etched around the base of the monument is remembered. So many lives in fact that the French donated the portion of land in front of the memorial to Canada - so our students can even say they have visited part of Canada too on this trip!
At the Notre-Dame de Lorette Necropole, a national memorial to over 40,000 soldiers who died in this region, we visited a fascinating museum took us on a journey underground to get an insight to what it must have been like to live in the trenches. Wax work models were adorned with the finest examples of uniforms, equipment and memorabilia from the First World War. Further historic photographs were available to view in 3D whilst we had a picnic with the French school before heading back to Calais to catch the ferry home.
Watch the news in November this year when our Queen and the French President will be going there to inaugurate a new circular memorial to become the largest in existence with the names of all the soldiers from the region who died in the First World War, no matter which country they fought for – Belgian, British, French, German, Moroccan, Polish, Romanian or Russian.
A truly memorable French experience for everyone, we would like to extend our gratitude to our partner school teachers, students and their families for their kindness and efforts which made our visit educational, interesting and fun.
MFL DepartmentView our photos here