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Réception des classes américaines à l'Elysée par le Président Miterrand, 1988

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22 mai 2010 6 22 /05 /mai /2010 10:18

In 1995, I had to face a serious situation: the American counselor from Ann Arbor, Michigan, had received a telephone call from an " unknown person" representing a terrorist group and threatening to hurt the American children. The State Department in Washington DC, the American Embassy and the secret service decided to rapatriate the children under police escort. After communication with Washington, the French authorities, I accompanied the children back home.

The truth was otherwise: the brother of a little girl from whom we had removed the American child for hosting reasons, had decided to organise a hoax to force the American class out of France. He succeded but he was arrested by the Secret Service and incarcerated.

 

This incident was kept secret by the French government for we had, at the time, more than five hundred American children in the Paris area and that would have been quite a chaotic situation if we had had to repartiate all of them.

The truth is revealed for the first time in France in the book: "Classe franco-américaine".

 

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22 mai 2010 6 22 /05 /mai /2010 10:13

Very often, the day after the performance, the French Spectacle had the first page in the local newspaper.This was an excellent promotion for the French language with the primary school children who then became interested in participating the following year and wanted to learn the French language. After the French class had returned home, the following year, the number of American children signing up for French sometimes tripled!

 

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22 mai 2010 6 22 /05 /mai /2010 09:55

French " Spectacles" were always a big hit in school districts: the press, television were always present to relate the performance by the French children. It was a serious part of their preparation as " little ambassadors" and every evening the show was on, the amphitheater, or gymnasium was filled to capacity with children and their families. Our French children looked like show biz stars!!

 

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22 mai 2010 6 22 /05 /mai /2010 09:48

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Reception by Achille Peretti, Mayor of Neuilly sur Seine: exchange of flags: André Girod and Achille Peretti holding the flag of Illinois given by a class from Springfield.

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Reception with Nicolas Sarkozy, nowadays, President of France.

At the time Sarkozy had just been elected to the Neuilly Municipal Council and was not known. However Neuilly canceled the back to back program because they had hosted a class from the south side of Chicago ( all black children) ( Barrack Obama's district) and the city of Neuilly did not want to host black students again!

 

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22 mai 2010 6 22 /05 /mai /2010 09:39

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Meeting with Ralph Perk, Mayor of Cleveland to give a letter from the Mayor of Sèvres along with a " famous " vase from the manufacture of Sèvres. The vase which was to be given to the Paul Briggs, Superintendant of the Cleveland Public schools disappeared somewhere and was never found again! 

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Meeting with Jane Byrne, Mayor of Chicago

 

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22 mai 2010 6 22 /05 /mai /2010 09:30

My responsability to promote the Back to Back through the primary schools in America was to meet the superintendant of each school district. Once convinced that the program was good for his fifth grade students, I met with the school principals to see who would volunteer to host the French class. Then meeting with the parents to explain the program.

In one year, I usually met with about one hundred school districts ( three per day ) to convince about ten of them. Constant travelling, over 200 000 miles per year, driving, flying!!

 

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From Chicago to New York, from Miami to Anchorage, from Phoenix to Seattle, there were no limits to my work: promoting the French langage and culture throughout the United States.

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22 mai 2010 6 22 /05 /mai /2010 09:11

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For many years, André Girod traveled extensively throughout the United-States, visiting EVERY state ( including Alaska and Hawaï) and going to far corners to meet with school authorities. We sent French children to nearly every state ( total 48). For this, André traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, accumulating points on his Amex!!!

In 1990, André flew 34  round trips from Chicago his US base to Perthes his French base, then five RT from New York, three RT from Miami and numerous flights within the United States. A total of close to 500 000 miles!!!

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21 mai 2010 5 21 /05 /mai /2010 16:47

Dans l'avion dans le chemin aller avec mes copains

On a flight from San Francisco to Paris we had three classes : total 88 kids!! The other passengers, at the airport counter started to panic when they saw the line of kids with their plane tickets in one hand, a suitcase in the other. Some asked to switch flights, 11 hours with a wild bunch of kids! No way! But we were very strict with discipline and we had many activities for them to do: they all had a journal with game ( no electronics!!) stories to write, letters to the parents, the movies ( not always for them!!) We never had any problem and the passengers came to thank the teachers and the children for such behavior! 

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This one is very quiet listening to music!

 

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21 mai 2010 5 21 /05 /mai /2010 16:41

Camping avec les familles durant le week-end 001

 

Picnic somewhere in Michigan: the presence of the French child incited the families to do things they would not have done: pic nics, visit to the next city, evening get together

 

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In a family, evening meal. This gave the opportunity to an American family to have dinner together

 

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21 mai 2010 5 21 /05 /mai /2010 16:36

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The above diploma was given to each child, French and American, at the end of his/her stay with the counterpart's family.

 

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The school district always rewarded a certificate of Appreciation to the French children during the final reception.

The American children had the same kind of reward from the French school.

 

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