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France/Côte d'Ivoire Journal, fall 2001

Photo album | Reports from France | Reports from Ivory Coast

Reports from France

Montpellier

Wednesday, September 19

Oh, what a fun day. Class was long, but after class Sara Joy and I came to my house and talked about nothing! I don't think we stopped laughing the whole time we were together. Then we went to the internet cafe and I had received a lot of emails and one from my daddy. It made me really miss him and my mom, but it sounds like all is flowing normally at home! Then we had dinner at her house (Sara Joy's) and I realized how nice it has been to have a family here that speaks only in French to me! It really has helped so much.

. . . Finally we all headed to the Karoke place and that was really funny and fun! There ended up being a ton of people that went and I even sang a solo dedicated to Weldon. I think the French people wanted to kill us because they were all practically professional when they sang and we were horrible. . .

Adrea Kuhns

Thursday, September 20

Today I came home around 3:30 or 4:00 and ended up falling asleep for awhile. It felt great to take a nap. Before that one the way home, I had an unsettling , confusing moment of realization. When walking from my tram stop at Corum to the apartment, every day I pass a mosque. I had seen a small sign for it once or twice when walking right by it, but it had never really registered before. It's not a mosque like one associates with the images on TV but is in a building like all the other buildings on the street (except that the doors and shuttered windows are painted a light mint green), and you can't tell from the outside what it is.

Anyway . . I had walked past as few times and the doors were open during the day and I could see a rack where they put their shoes when they go in and such and I had always just kind of thought, "Huh, that's interesting . . . I wonder if this is the only one in Montpellier" or something like that. But today when I was walking home there was a group of women dressed in traditional Muslim garb standing right outside talking . . . I had already crossed over to the other side of the street and didn't have to walk through them or anything . . . But the weirdest thing that happened was right when I first saw them--despite my intellectual knowledge/logic that not all terrorists are Muslim and not all Muslims are terrorists and that most of the images we see on TV are of an extreme and small radical group--my stomach knotted and I felt myself tense up for a second.

Then what had just happened hit me. Even by consciously watching the news and international coverage with a very skeptical mind set, I had unconsciously absorbed the message that the media (at least in the U.S. it seems) was attempting to portray. "Watch out for these people." It was utterly ridiculous, but my basic instinct was to turn back around. Fortunately it only lasted a split second. How stupid was that? These were Muslim women in Montpellier, France (of all places) who probably didn't even notice me, much less could they really have guess that I was American. What did I think was going to happen? I just feel an incredible sadness about the whole situation, like I failed some test of non-judgmental acceptance of others, like I should go back and apologize to those women. It's very humbling.

Jessica Stauffer

Thursday, September 20

I've had such a good day! Class went quickly and I spent the afternoon with my mom's second grade class. I had a very difficult time finding the school and I was about to give up and go home but a homeless man offered his help and I found my way! My mom's class of 20 students quizzed me for a half hour. The kids asked tons and tons of questions, first about New York and the attacks, then about the U.S. in general, and then mostly about me--some really cute questions like "Do you have friends?" and "Do you like our classroom?" I had a great time! After class I went to the playground for recess and for 30 minutes I had around 15 girls all trying to hold my hand or sit on my lap. It was such a fun experience.

Bess Steury

Thursday, September 20

I went on the excursion today to Saint Guilhem du Désert. It was incredible, my favorite part of France that I've seen so far. It was a tiny village in the middle of the country and mountains. It had all ancient, picture perfect, stone buildings and every direction you turned looked a scene from a fairy tale.

Kristy Waltner

Friday, September 21

Our stay in Montpellier passed by quickly. I'm sad to go, but at the same time excited to see more of France and do new things. I hope, even though class is over, I am able to pick up more French along the way because I still have a pretty weak vocabulary and can't speak in complete sentences yet.

Today I spent sometime at home working on my scrapbook. During that time I watched Pretty Woman in French. It was the first movie in French that I could understand, but that's because I have the whole thing memorized in English. Supper was so good; it was meatballs with onions in them mixed with green beans, and covered with red sauce. I'm really going to miss my mom's cooking. She has never cooked the same thing twice and I have loved everything (except the rabbit stuff on 9/17)

Kristy Waltner

Friday, September 21

Today was our last day of classes--mostly a relief. I have grown tired of this schedule that repeats itself every day. I am very ready to experience something new. I can't imagine staying here for three months. I have deeply enjoyed the city of Montpellier and getting to know people from all over the world, but now it is time to move on.

Laura Miller

Saturday, September 22

I can't believe that tomorrow we leave already. It seems like just yesterday when we were getting off the train in Montpellier, but yet in some ways so much has happened in the last three weeks that it seems as though we've been here forever. I'm filled with so many mixed emotions. While on one hand I'm so sad to be leaving all our friends, I also am so excited to continue on with our trip. I've had such a good time in Montpellier.

Teresa Christner

Sunday, September 23

Today we got up and I finished packing and Sami and his friend carried my bag to the train station for me. They couldn't believe my luggage and were laughing about it in French. I knew they were, nevertheless I was very grateful and Sami and I kissed good-bye the European way which brought a wave of affection to the surface for him.

Nga Nguyen

 

Le Fleury in eastern France

Monday, September 24

Today went pretty well. After breakfast, we had classes on the Enlightenment and on the overall program at Le Fleury. I think the next two weeks will be fun and definitely not just because of classes. In the evening, there were so many people playing different games and such that I had to delay my reading for about an hour and a half. In the afternoon we went to Le Château de Belfort. It was actually a huge fortress with tons of trenches and things. It was pretty spectacular. While on the top of the fortifications, we saw a house burning. It burned for at least 15 minutes and for a little while we saw flames coming out of the roof. Then the fire trucks arrived and they raised a ladder and someone put out the flames. That was our first day in Belfort in Le Fleury and it was quite fun.

Weldon Miller

 

Tuesday, September 25

After lunch we visited the equivalent of Bashor and Greencroft--only the children's home was a 19th century mansion. Yeah, nice house. Everything was run in the Mennonite name, but it is funded by the state. Interesting. We munched on chocolates while watching a short film on the institution (John Howard Yoder was a founding member). We had pizza for supper and afterwards Olivier told us two legends from the area in French. They were pretty cool, except that I had a hard time understanding the second one. After story time, a lot of people, including me, took some time before bed to catch up on some reading. A lot of time. But that's all for today.

Brad Hoffman

Wednesday, September 26

Today we had a great time. We had to wake up nearly an hour early so we could get on time to the Peugeot factory. I was very excited since it was my first time in a car factory. We saw huge robots working perfectly on the car structures. It was just amazing to see them. Then we came back to the camp to have classes after lunch time. I played ping pong, read a little and journaled.

Victor Diez de Medina

Thursday, September 27

We went to Strasbourg. We left early in the morning and had about an hour and twenty minute drive. Olivier drove for me, and I'm glad as I was pretty tired. The town of Strasbourg was very beautiful. I really like the cathedral. Adie and I noticed however how much more simple and ordinary the Lutheran church that we visited was.

We had a nice lunch along the river walk and I didn't step in dog poop. We visited the Mennonite church in Strasbourg as well (where Sara Joy and Bess end up meeting us after getting lost at the sweet shop). I really like the feel of the church. It was homey and small. They fed us some cake and a tart and made us feet at home. The church there in Strasbourg had the same feel as a lot of churches back home (Mennonite churches). This one seemed most like Emmanuel Mennonite for me.

In the evening we went to a nice restaurant where we had many tartes flambées. They were really good. The whole ambiance was very nice. I'm glad that we get to do fun stuff like this.

Thaddaeus May

Friday, September 28

Today was such an awesome day. The weather was absolutely beautiful and perfect. I think wonderful weather like that puts everyone in a good mood.

We learned how to do French cuisine. I sliced, slabs of carp in thin strips. Kind of sick but fun. Others made blueberry tarts, potatoes, salads, veggies, etc. Everyone helped and it was so fun.

Sara Joy Bergey

First weekend with families

Saturday, September 29

We woke early this morning to travel to Geneva, Switzerland. Jess and I kept marveling at how awesome it is to "go to Switzerland for the day." We've definitely got bragging rights! The drive was incredible, despite the increasing rain, fog, and dark skies. . . We met up with Miriam's brother and sister-in-law and walked around in the pouring rain to see the sights of the city. They were so proud to show us the Reformation Wall and tried to give us a religious history lesson until they realized how much we already know. It was neat to see their pride in the Mennonite heritage and desire to pass that on. I'm sure the lack of Mennonites in France makes them even more eager to find people with common backgrounds. Unfortunately, Id did not prepare for wet weather and had to wear flip-flops which they thought was so foolish and also quite funny. I was grateful when we stopped for coffee and apple pie at a nice restaurant. They are so generous and it was apparent that they truly wanted us to enjoy and be impressed by Geneva.

Laura Miller

Sunday, September 30

Today we went to church, a Mennonite one. It was really nice, but I did not understand too much. A lot of the family was over for the meal. It is such a fun time at meals with everybody there. The conversation and "family time" we have together is fun. Then we played soccer all afternoon with family and friends. I had to play barefoot because I didn't have shoes, but it was muddy so it was fun. Then we had to come back to Le Fleury. It seemed that everybody was super hyper . . . Figuring out free travel, that's fun. I am super excited about it. I also have to prepare for devotions tomorrow because my room is leading them. It should be a good time.

Aaron Miller

Le Fleury

Monday, October 1

Well, today we had class and we also learned about the Widmer family. It was pretty interesting. Then, we had lunch and went to this outdoor museum. It was pretty nice because we didn't have any tour guides so we could just walk around and enjoy it ourselves. After we got back, we ate supper and then I listened to music for a while. I also listened to Brad sing and play guitar which I really enjoyed. It was nice to just sit back and relax today.

Jana Bentch

Tuesday, October 2

. . . . We parked beside a creek and ate tomato sandwiches. Tomatoes and mustard on bread just make me happy in and of themselves, but to eat them amidst fallen leaves beside a stream is even more exciting. I managed to capture some time to myself making leaf boats . . .

In the afternoon we toured the resistance museum in the Citadel of Besançon I enjoyed the tour much more than the art museum because we had audio guides and could carry on at our own pace. About halfway through the exhibit on violent resistance in World War II and the persecution of the Jews, I began to feel slightly sick. . . I continued through the rooms, but my was so full of information that I struggled to comprehend anything else. . . I left the museum and felt completely disoriented by the bright happy sunlight.

Esther Harder

Wednesday, October 3

I realized today that I don't have enough time to take for myself. My contemplating time when I can pull my fragments together to make a sort of a whole. Maybe I am losing some of the pieces along the way since there is such few time to collect them. I suppose there are a lot of fragmented wholes walking around hoping people won't notice their cracks and missing parts. I never before considered myself to be one of those. Today, though, I seem to be losing glue with every step.

Erin Wentorf

 

Wednesday, October 3

Wow. This trip is going by too fast. Only two more weeks in beautiful France, one in Spain. Then Africa. I really look forward to Africa. I am ready for a drastic change. It will stretch me for sure. I'm ready to be challenged . . . No pain, no gain, Hugh? I'm a little scared abut Africa. Nervous, I guess. But I really look forward to it. . . I love cross cultural. I don't understand how you can't enjoy every minute of it. It's so exciting. Maybe I will go on another one.

Sara Joy Bergey

Wednesday, October 3

We had a short test on Candied this morning. I actually enjoyed thinking about the questions. They brought together our experiences and observances in France and Voltaire's writing. It really is amazing how something like the Enlightenment period takes on a different meaning when one is surrounded by a different culture.

Lindsay Williams

Thursday, October 4

Today we went on a hike through the mountains. Wow! What an amazing time! Although I am in horrible shape and felt it every minute of the hike, it was so worth it. Our guide was really great, too. He was really patient with us and I got to talk with him in French for a bit. It was really entertaining when he was talking with Aaron. He would try to use English as much as he could since Aaron doesn't speak a lot of French, but he ended up translating simple things like numbers into English--the words that Aaron knows in French. It was fun to listen to them try to talk in each other's languages.

Lindsay Williams

Friday, October 5

The last Friday at El Floury. Wow, time keeps going faster and faster. We ended up driving around for most of the day, leaving at 10:00 to go to a fromagerie . . . We ended up being an hour late so there was no tour be we got some cheese and went for our picnic. We then went to see some trenches of World War I. Very moving. Then back to clean and go to host families.

Erin Wentorf

Second weekend with families

Saturday, October 6

. . . We stopped off on the way home "to help move a big dresser." However, when we walked downstairs there were a lot of people there for a surprise party for me. It was great. I was definitely surprised. The people there were Andrew,
Erin, Lindsay, Weldon, Allan and I and then Allan's host siblings and some of the other youth we had met the week before. We sat around and talked for a while, then made our own crepes for dinner, then had cake and ice cream, then sat and talked some more. At the dinner, the Americans were to speak French and the French were to speak English. It made for some laughs. The kids even gave me some good chocolate and other candy as a present. Oh, yeah, my host family also gave me chocolate and Salomé gave me a picture she colored. It really was a great day.

Teresa Christner

Free travel week

Monday, October 8

Traveling again. We finally found a hotel last night, but only for a couple of us so the girls stayed there and the boys stayed in the park. Since we were only there for about four hours basically all we did was watch CNN (news about the bombing) and drift in and out of naps. We spent another bunch of hours on the trains and on one train we got in trouble. We had asked before hand whether or not we needed a reservation; the guy said no, but we did need one after all. So we had to get one on the train for more money. Definite booooo. Finally, we arrived in Rome. I don't know what I was expecting, but when we walked out of the train station it just looked like another big city, nothing special. We set off in search of a hotel and it took forever, but we finally found one. There is a definite language barrier here. Victor and Thaddaeus speak Spanish with an Italian accent and usually that gets the point across.

Teresa Christner

Tuesday, October 9

Today we slept in until 9, some people 10, and then headed to the gare to find a bus schedule for the beach. We found one, but decided it wasn't worth it because it was $4 and we didn't really feel like going. Instead we walked around, ate lunch, and tried to figure out what kind of festival was going on and why every shop was closed. Apparently, it was Valencia day. They had fireworks in the afternoon that were incredible. They turned the whole atmosphere to smoke so we could barely see. . . we went to a bullfight. I'm glad I went because it was really Spanish culture, but it was pretty gross. I never watched the actual killing. I always had to close my eyes. Six bulls were killed in one night, but I felt better about it when I found out all the meat is donated to the poor. It started pouring halfway through, but we all stayed to watch anyway.

Kristy Waltner

Wednesday, October 10

First day in Rome was awesome. We started out by going to a beautiful email café that was the best one I've been to ever. We were there an hour and then split up into groups to explore for the day. I went with Jessica and Clint to the Coliseum (since none of us went the night before) and the old city. It was gorgeous. I got a couple souvenirs already. We walked around forever and it was so nice not to be on a guided tour. There were a lot of people and even more scooters. I was surprised that I heard so much English. A lot of tourists. Africa feels so far away.

Erin Wentorf

Thursday, October 11

Market day today. We left Jacqueline's house for the last time; she is headed off on vacation to Greece late tonight. Evelyne is going to take care of us, I gather. We went shopping all together in Sarguemines. I found a satisfactory journal in one store. I had hoped to buy a fancy one, but there wasn't much choice and I am running out of pages in here. . I was impressed that the shopkeepers knew Evelyne and Jacqueline. It seems like a large, impersonal place, so it is nice to be wrong once in a while. The women bought freshly ground coffee in one store and sliced meat in another.

Esther Harder

Friday, October 12

Sara Joy and I took the metro to the Segrada Familia cathedrals. They were amazing. Gaudi did the planning and the building and construction has taken over a century. It's unbelievable. We love it so much but headed to Parc Guell, another Gaudi creation. We ran into Neal Yoder from EMU and he showed us around. It was quite a coincidence.

Bess Steury

Back to Le Fleury

Saturday, October 13

I slept well in the train, but unfortunately the train came into Paris an hour late. So began our day of catching various trains. Originally it was supposed to be only two trains but since the first one was late we had to take five trains. But the journey was a lot of fun. The group of us six had fun making jokes and just amusing each other.

The one thing I wanted most when we finally got to Belfort was to shower, brush teeth and change clothes. What did I get? A blind walk through the woods listening to deer grunt. I was sure freaking not amused!! But as I write this I am showered and lying in bed. So good night.

Clint Buck

Saturday, October 13

I am so tired I can barely keep my eyes open, but we are almost to Belfort. We are temporarily stopped somewhere past Montbéliard because of a bomb threat. I think I should be concerned, but somehow I am not really phased after the train ride last night until 5:00 a.m. this morning. So many guys were walking up and down the aisles obviously staring at your possessions and plotting ways to get them. The train stopped around 4:00 a.m. because 40 plus people had stuff stolen from them. All the thieves began to look the same after a while and so I didn't feel comfortable pointing any out to the security. Why do they let that many people get violated before doing something? By the time they were taking action the guilty parties were long gone.

Andrew Schubert

Saturday, October 13

I got to go mushroom hunting again, this time with our entire group and a man who knew every mushroom we handed him by common and Latin names. . . We saw some . . . cool mushrooms as we hiked. The red kind with the white dots that you always see with gnomes in fairy tales has a yellow part under the red cap that has poison in it. However, if you take the time to remove all of the yellow, you have an edible mushroom--not worth the effort. One funny side note is that our guide didn't even like to eat mushrooms even though he knew all about them. A graying lady along with us tried every single mushroom, mashing the mushroom in her mouth and then spitting them out--even the slightly poisonous ones. There were also little purple ones that Jana and I found; they were edible (although we didn't try) and very delicate with a satiny look to them.

The funniest, most ironic part of the night was our trip to hear the deer mating calls. We picked up the Italy group on the way . . . isn't that ironic? Twenty-four hours or more on the tracks they arrive not at Le Fleury, but in a foggy field trudging through the dark.

Esther Harder

Two days in Caen

Tuesday, October 16

I slept surprisingly well on the trains this morning. It really was a godsend. I needed it. We made it to Caen without a hitch despite apprehension about more of the trains along the way being canceled. Even the switch from one train station to another in Paris went well. Our hotel in Caen is across the street from the station so we just walked there. Andrew, Allan and I slept from about 11:00 a.m. to 2:00. Then we walked around, changed money and had coffee by the river. I worked on my scrapbook a bit, as did Andrew.

Brad Hoffman

Wednesday, October 17

Today was probably one of the most meaningful times I have ever spent at a historical museum. I really took my time reading all the captions and Materials until the last room which I had to rush in order to watch the trilogy in the cinemas. I just really enjoyed all the material and the way it was presented. To take something like World War II, a horrible and unfathomable injustice done to humankind, and make it so interesting while including all sides of the story is incredible. The Noble Peace Prize winners were impressive too--I learned a lot at that museum in a very short amount of time.

After the museum it just got better. We visited the American cemetery--actually American soil--and the more than 9,000 graves were very impressive. Such a peaceful and beautiful resting place for victims of a massively bloody war. Point du Hoc took on a new set of emotions--awe, pride, justice. Usually a pacifist, I couldn't help but betray my opposition to war long enough to take pride in the way the Allied forces won battles in strangely wild and beautiful places such as Point du Hoc. To see the present and actual footage of the same place in the Memorial's trilogy films is mind boggling. More conflicting thoughts--who would want to carry out war in such a beautiful place? What would or could possess a person (such as Hitler) to spread such death and destruction of both body and soul across entire continents? And then the German cemetery holding over 21,000 graves. . . Most of the soldiers were between the ages of 17 and 23. Did they understand that death was impossible to escape? Did they know or realize what principles their government stood for? Were they fighting of their own free will or because of coercion? Could I imagine myself courageous enough to survive in such an environment?

Sarah Troyer

Wednesday, October 17

I think that today I came closer to realizing why as a pacifist I feel such a strong draw to war monuments. I guess that in order to be a pacifist, I need to really understand what it is that I'm saying I'm against. When I see the gravestones, thousands and thousands of gravestones and I can picture in my mind the humble happenings of this bloody past I feel closer to understanding these human atrocities than ever before. I really wish that I could explain myself better but I feel different.

Adrea Kuhns


Friday, September 7

We had a very good meal, and then danced the folk dances native to Occitania. It was a lot of fun. I was able to chat with people from all over Europe and I learned a couple of things: There are five main parties in Germany and right now the more liberal Social Democrats are in power. The Christian Democratic party is more conservative and was the party of Helmut Kohl.

A girl from Cologne thinks that people from Bavaria are pretty difficult to get along with because they "are much more close minded and conservative." Marianna from Switzerland told me that in Switzerland the different language groups use English to speak with each other. There is not much mixing, and people do not move a lot from one part of the country to another like we do in the U.S.

A guy from Indonesia says that there re a lot of people in Indonesia that hate the U.S. (mainly students) because of the activist role the U.S. take in Asia. But he doesn't because he thinks Indonesia's problems are more internal than external. He like Indonesia's current president who is the daughter of Indonesia's first president. He says that the massacres in Indonesia have been because of political or ethnic nature rather than because of religious conflict which is what I had thought.

Monday, September 10

After our seminar we went to the mall to look for some French books. We ended up stopping in front of a bakery while waiting for someone, and then started to get hungry looking at all the food behind the glass. So we all chipped in and bought a couple tarts which were really good, and probably made the bakery lady think we were a little odd, always asking if she could cut the tart into four pieces. -- Thaddaeus May

Thursday, September 6

When I got home, we ate hot-dogs and fried potatoes. Jah. I didn't come to France for food that I eat on a campout. . . . Well, it's time for bed. I want to get good sleep so I can revise my notes in the morning.

Sunday, September 9

Some thoughts occurred to me as I was trying to get to sleep. One, I hate Madame Altaret's dog, Etac. The stupid thing barks all the time, even at home when I'm trying to go to sleep. Two, the doors in this house are terrible. Several of the exterior doors don't latch well, and they swing open if there is a strong wind. Then they swing around and make a bunch of noise. Oh, well. Just some thoughts while I'm going to sleep (or trying to).

Tuesday, September 11

I went to the museum (Fabre). That was quite cool because I love paintings and I understood the guide because she talked clearly. It was fun, too. I got a postcard of little Samuel praying. It was one of my favorite paintings there. I . . . got the conjugation book at FNAC. Then I saw on the news a news flash about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. Apparently, terrorists took over four planes. . . . It's a huge calamity and the U.S. is in an uproar. We talked about all this at dinner. . . The lady who came over was my host mother's cousin and her cousin's daughter from Italy. Things got heated when they talked about who carried out the bombing and why they were late for supper. Bedtime! I have to get up extra early to go talk about the t terrorism. I will write more about that when I know more of the events. -- Weldon Miller

Tuesday, September 11

Today is a day I will forever remember. There were four catastrophic explosions in the U.S. I have never really felt American pride or loyalty until this afternoon. Brad and I were at the mall and we were stopped on the way out by an African man asking us to sign a petition and give money for African children. Not knowing whether or not this man had good intentions we wanted to help him so we offered our $. In return he shared news of the city of New York being bombed (false info). I thought immediately that he was intending to sucker us into believing a catastrophe like this could really happen to us. So as Brad and I walked away I questioned whether or not to be "proud" or trusting. We stopped on our way home because the news caught or attention. We found a TV and for one hour we watched the destruction of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and hear about another crash in Pittsburgh. Thousands of people died, have injuries, have loved ones missing and are worried and scared. . . . I checked CNN with Nga and Thad and came home to my French family surrounding the TV (for the first time since I've been here) talking about Pearl Harbor and World War II comparisons. I'm away from home and for the first time since I left I Wang to be there to talk with my family and watch the news in English . . . Bess Steury

Wednesday, September 12

As an American living abroad, I can only wish I was home . . . to understand the emotions that are being lived rather than just hearing about the event. . . . It's like a bad dream. I can only cry with the families of the victims. So today I could not concentrate in class and I passed the day in a daze. I was very tired . . It's so frustrating living here and not being able to understand the news. . . Nga Nguyen

Tuesday, September 11

What a long and sad day today was. But I just keep thinking how much more miserable it must be to be in America right now. It's not that this tragedy hasn't affected France. In fact there were newspapers being read everywhere I looked and every TV in every bar in every home was covering the tragedy, and people all around were showing their sympathy towards those Americans who lost lives, and their outrage towards the terrorists. But still, it seemed as if the miles between here and there dampened the pain of this incident. All day long I heard how terrible this was for the Americans, and how this hasn't ever happened to America. They all showed their sympathy for us, but the thought that wouldn't escape my from my mind was that it isn't "us" as Americans that this tragedy happened to, but "us" as a world. It doesn't matter where it took place; everyone is hurt equally by it because the fact is our world is not at peace.

Tuesday, September 11 The World Trade Center and the Pentagon, these are the two sits of terrorist acts today in the U.S. For what reason? Who? Why? I feel so disconnected and yet the French make me feel so connected to those happenings. . . . Hatred of the U.S., that hits home. What is a pacifist? Am I one? Moments like this make me feel like I am not, yet I am a peacemaker. Where do I fit into all of this? Tonight I was watching a soccer game at a restaurant near my house and this older woman came up to me and was very sad about the terrorist acts. It was so beautiful because she didn't know I was an American until I told her. Andrew Schubert

Tuesday, September 11 . . . I was sitting on the beach at Palavas, watching Jamel flirt with the other girls, when Matthieu hurried up in excitement. He asked if there were any Americans present, and I was the only one. I thought that he was going to tell a joke; in fact, as he commenced his story, I still thought he was joking. He told us that Manhattan had been attacked by two planes which destroyed the World Trade Center towers. Another plane struck the Pentagon and they didn't have a death count, but were already blaming the Palestinians. I must have made an incredulous face because Jamel tried to convince me it was true. It was strange to be getting terrible news in a language when I wasn't totally sure I understood the extent. People reacted differently, of course. Some laughed, and I almost did the same since it is rather ironic that some planes could just randomly destroy one of the tallest building in the world and the military center of a powerful nation in one day. Others began swearing and talking in their native languages. I just sat, listened, and tried to absorb it all.

Sunday, September 16

Marceline took me along on an afternoon hike when I got home. We went with Françoise, Anita, Phillipe, Rosanne and Diana to St. Guilhem du Désert and climbed around in the mountains--walked really. I was greatly excited to have the chance to leave the general populace behind and to see another part of France. During the hike, I was transported into the world of Manon de la source and could almost her goats. The countryside is so similar; scrubby bushes and low-lying trees. Two types of tiny purple flowers were blooming as well. We hiked an hour and a quarter to a chapel, and then back down again. Esther Harder

Monday, September 10

I checked my email today and I had lots of email from people at home. It was great to catch up on the goings-on of my boyfriend, friends, and family. Sometimes I just had to chuckle quietly over certain parts. It's kind of weird , but I feel pulled in two directions when I get mail like that. On one hand it makes me want to be there and witness everything (getting a new roof on our house, my brother's senior soccer season, Sunday afternoon football, etc.) and that makes me homesick. On the other hand, getting letters, email, etc. makes me sure that I'm not forgotten and that the people I care about think about me during the course of a day. This makes me more confident that I can stick out the whole three and a half months, and that there will still be people eager to see me when I step off that plane on December 10th. So I think that contact with loved ones back home can be a stumbling block and a firm foundation all rolled into one . . and I don't think I would have it any other way. So that's my revelation for the day. I just have to add though, that during and after supper this evening my host mother and I talked more than usual. She told me about her childhood--she has had a very hard life, growing up Jewish during World War II, and I admire her strength,. She doesn't seem to harbor a lot of resentment. We also talked about politics (a little), and eating habits of different cultures. It was very interesting for both of us I think.-- Jessica Stauffer

Thursday, September 13

After supper, Philip left so it was just me and Danielle left at the table. I told her that I had never been to New York, she about fell over, amazed. I tried to explain that Kansas was far away, and my family didn't travel much. Then I went upstairs and got my scrapbook. I hadn't shown it to her yet, so I thought It would be a perfect time. She loved it. As I explained the pictures in half English, half French, she would tell me how to say it all in French, and then make me repeat it. It is so much easier to communicate with a visual. however, I kept messing up the ma, ta, mon and ton. I kept telling her that it was her mom and her dad in the picture instead of mine. She would correct me and we would both laugh. Even though I wasn't speaking in complete sentences, I felt good about my French speaking tonight. Kristy Waltner

Sunday, September 9

Today I thought I was supposed to sit at the beach all day, but I had to listen to a tour all day and not even see the ocean. I was so mad! I hate the tours because I can't understand anything, and I can't look at what I want to. I was so tired, on top of that, because of the activities from the day before. Tuesday, September 11 I cannot explain just how I feel or what is going through my mind. A great tragedy has happened in the States; it's really amazing and quite scary. D.C. and New York City were hit. Planes crashed into the World Trade center and the Pentagon. Hard to understand because it is in French. At around 5:30 I was heading back home . I saw a big crowd of people crowded around a building. . . . I got closer and recognized the towers and NYC. Also, CNN had it saying "America under attack." I couldn't believe my eyes. I sat up front, right on the step and watched in disbelief what was happening. Was this really happening? I felt so far away from home and at that moment I felt so proud to be an American and I felt so sad and alone as all the French people watched the screen. They, too, were amazed and shocked. I wanted so badly to have another American there with me . . to reassure me that it was real.

You think of America as being so strong and then here we are. It's so sad. Maybe I feel this so strongly effected because I am so far away and in a foreign country. Would I feel like this if I were in the States? I don't know. As soon as I got home I turned on the TV. I pulled out the notes I took on the street--scared. I wondered about so many things. You wonder what the government keeps from its citizens. Who would hate us so much to do such a horrible act? Was this just the beginning? Was this a warning? Were there more tragedies to come? How did "they" do it? Who was involved? So many questions.

I wish so bad that there was a television in English so I could get the whole story. French is really annoying now because it's keeping me away from valuable information. I feel so badly about everything. All the innocent people who were murdered. All innocent. How can people do that? What happened to them? Why so much hate? . . This isn't supposed to happen. All those families--people. Husbands, wives, children grandparents, students--everyone. I hate this. I want too do something so badly.-- Sara Joy Bergey

Wednesday, September 12

Well, not much is new today. I keep trying to take my mind off the disaster of yesterday, but every time I do, someone around me starts talking about it. I really don't like how some people think they know everything and so they have to talk about it and put their two cents in and half the time what they say is really stupid or I just don't agree with it. I can't even really give examples. I guess I am just so frustrated and confused about it all that I get upset any time people talk about it. Jana Bentch

Saturday, September 15

I woke up today feeling a little ill . . o.k., feeling really ill. But it didn't get too bad as the day went on. I hung out with the family all day. It was pretty nice. I also discovered a French-English dictionary. It's a beautiful thing. We all went to a birthday party tonight and everyone knew me as the American. It was very interesting when one of the family friends admitted being surprised that an American was taking interest in a foreign language.

Sunday, September 16

Mmmmmm . . . the clock read 11:30 when I rolled out of bed. I think it's the cold taking its toll. The agenda was kind of sparse today . . Evidently you have to wear a speedo in public swimming pools--not a pretty sight. I got the opportunity to watch Nicholas compete in a tennis tournament tonight. This weekend has really developed my friendships with my host family. It has been a very good two days. Clint Buck

Thursday, September 13

I had an actual conversation with my host mother today. All in French! It was great. Up until this point our conversations have consisted of her talking and me answering with "oui" or "non" or other one-word answers. But this time I said whole sentences and asked her questions as well. Before I could think of a few things to say, but would get scared or take too long and she'd move on to another topic. I guess I got over that. At least for one night anyway. I think I really surprised her because she got all energized and excited and gave me extra dessert. I guess we'll see tomorrow if I can keep talking or not. Maybe I actually am learning something here . . .

Friday, September 14

I just finished reading the article in our book titled "Another French Revolution" about Marseilles. It was a very interesting article. Several thoughts and questions came to my mind while reading. First of all, is there and Arc de Triomphe in every French city? There was one in Paris, there's one here in Montpellier, and the article mentions one in Marseilles. So are they everywhere or is this just coincidence. Another fact that I found quite shocking and interesting was the fact that 76 million of the world's 80 million new inhabitants are being born in Third World countries. That is a staggering amount.

On a lighter note, it's a shame those babies aren't born in France because I have yet to see an ugly kid here. No joke, every kid I've passed on the street has been adorable. Part of it could that I find it really cute when they speak French (since I really can't). It makes them sound so intelligent to me. I was sitting in a park earlier today and just watched a little boy around two years old playing with his father. The scene could just as easily have taken place in America, (except the kid was ten times cuter than most American children) and when at one point the little boy threw back his head and laughed, I couldn't help but smile as well. Teresa Christner

Friday, September 7

It was a long day of classes followed by a late night. I am so grateful for the break that the weekend will provide. It's amazing how exhausting learning another language is. My brain is quite tired and I really found it difficult to concentrate today. I think all of us must be in similar circumstances because our teacher got fairly frustrated with our class. It is interesting to think about the differences that I've noticed between American students and other students. We went around the room and said how long we've been studying French. I assumed by the way the students acted in class that they had studied longer than myself and the three others from the EMU group. However, most of them had studied for a shorter period of time. They are all eager to answer questions in class and make comments. It seems that we have different "class etiquette." I would not make it a habit to answer numerous questions in a row during class. However, the non-American students find no problem in this. They seem to answer whenever they know the answer, even if it means not giving someone else a chance This is very different in comparison to American classes where teachers often have to call on students for participation. They may be an entirely false generalization and my class of international students an exception, but I keep noticing it everyday.

Tuesday, September 11

This is a day that will go down in history of the United States. Although I am in Montpellier, France, my hear is in America where my family and friends are. Early this afternoon]late morning two planes crashed into the world Trade Center twin towers. One plane hit the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and one crashed near Pittsburgh. All have been deemed terrorist attacks and a great catastrophe. Even here, an ocean away, the news revolves around the tragedies that have rocked my home. I can only pray for the safety of my loved ones, since it is impossible to get through the busy circuits and hear my parents' voices. It's strange how it didn't feel real when I first hear the new until I came home and watched the awful footage on TV. I feel so far away from it all and yet quite connected. Laura Miller

Tuesday, September 11

First of all, let me tell you that today was one of those I will remember all my life. Everything was going as planned. That is, we had a good class in the morning even when nothing unusual happened. After that a lot of people went biking. It was about 15 kilometers we biked with Jamel and Jean-Paul to get to the beach. There were people who biked really fast and others (like me) not so fast. It was a very fun time, and we got to the beach, relaxed, bought ice cream at a place that had so many flowers. When we were getting ready to leave, we received the news that the U.S.A. had been under attack. I thought it was a joke, but nobody seemed to laugh. I felt really in shock when I saw the news on TV back home. The TWC towers and the Pentagon had been hit.

Wednesday, September 12

A lot of German students have friends working in New York and they were even more worried than the Americans in general. Everybody is really sad . . . If the military responds out of anger, the terrorist will have won this battle and will be closer to winning a war that should not exist.

Sunday, September 16

I had the chance to participate in "le marché aux puces" (flea market)from a different perspective, the vendor's side. Because of a workshop we had we sold things in a free market place. There were lots of people and I got to speak in French and negotiated with the difficult people. One old man wanted to buy five things that were at five francs each for ten. We fought with him for a long time, but at the end he took them for the ten francs because it was late and things had to get sold somehow. I went to the zoo to get together with the group and celebrate Jessica's birthday. I got lost in the zoo because I could not find the group until I was leaving. When I was waiting for the bus, I saw Nancy and Carroll They gave me a croissant that was left from the meeting. I am going to sleep now and wake up tomorrow. Victor Diez de Medina

Tuesday, September 11

I was sitting on the beach at Palavas watching Jamel flirt with the other girls when Matthieu hurried up in excitement. He asked if there were any Americans present and I was the only one. I thought that he was going to tell a joke; in fact, as he commenced his story, I still thought he was joking. He told us that Manhattan had been attacked by two planes which destroyed the World Trade Center Towers. . . . It was strange to be getting terrible news in a language which I wasn't totally sure I understood. -- Esther Harder

Wednesday, September 12

Today was such a sad yet surreal day. I feel so far away from everything that happened and nothing seems possible. All I want is to talk to my parents and Ihaven't been able to yet. My brain was not in school. I had a miserable day in class and all I could think of was the fact that my countrymen were suffering and it was so hard to think that they most likely wish that type of suffering on someone else. Spreading the pain is not the answer and I pray that America realizes that. This incident has made me realize more than anything else how important my pacifistic beliefs are.

Sunday, September 16

Another early morning--well kind of. I spent the night at Bess' last night after meeting with a bunch of IMEF people for dancing. So we woke up early for church. What a shock! No one goes to church. I thought maybe it was just the specific church that we went to but after with some others found out that very few Europeans attend church. The only people at the service were older people and there weren't even many of them. The priest seemed thrilled to see so many young faces . . . Monday, September 17 Back to school and class. How much more French can we take? I'm actually pretty excited because I feel like I've learned so much. After class we went to sing at the church. It's one of my favorite things to do with the group. I love that the men can sing so well and it feels so great to be together just singing. It's a really nice break from the craziness of French. Then I went with Sara Joy and Bess shopping but I didn't find anything. Sometimes I get so depressed after shopping. Adrea Kuhns

Thursday, September 13

Classes were all right today, definitely better than yesterday. It's hard to think that we have only one week left here. I watched the Simpsons in French today and Beverly Hills 90210 and that was really cool. Saturday, September 15 Today was a very tiring day. I rode my bike to Aigues-Mortes and back. I got to see some of the typical southern France countryside. I also found a riding partner along the way. He started talking to me as we were going the same way, so I followed him. Aigues-Mortes was very cool because it was a small town inside the fortress. Then I rode down towards a beach and got to see a festival. The running of the bulls was the main attraction. The streets were filled with people and bands were playing. Some of the children even ran behind the bulls which was very cool. The ride home seemed very long. Aaron Miller

Saturday, September 15

We had a wonderful lunch of couscous with chicken and vegetables in the market. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the meal. Walking through the streets of the market was rather stressful. The distasteful, overpowering smells of fish, crowds of noisy, aggressive people, and dirty, wet streets brought out the timid Mennonite in me. Two men were yelling at a couple of us--something about we love Americans. They really got in one girl's face, pressuring her for something. I immediately felt quite uncomfortable and almost scared by it all. Matt told me that I need to very assertive with people, especially once we get to Africa. That is what makes me most nervous. I thought I stuck out today! If my life were a novel, today would certainly be some obvious foreshadowing.

Tuesday, September 18

Today we visited the historic, Roman-inspired city of Nîmes. What incredible sights! I wasn't really in the touring mood because I'm growing tired of being led around a city in a big group, but I am really glad that I decided to go . We climbed the gigantic steps inside the amphitheater. I couldn't stop thinking about all the blood that must have been inside the ring over the years and wondering how people could come here to be entertained by such gore. Or wasn't it me who less than a month ago went to the cinema to such similar things? Some things never truly change. The town, lined with shops and cafes, was beautiful to stroll through, although I would have like to have had more time to explore in small groups and actually spend some time in the shops. Laura Miller

Friday, September 14

In the afternoon Weldon and I went to the perfume seminar. That was pretty interesting. I never realized how psychological scent really is On the way home, a French guy came up to me at the Gare while I was waiting for my bus. He approached me rather sheepishly and asked for help in catching the #15 bus. He made some motions and talked a bit, and I didn't understand all of it. However, because of his apparent embarrassment I guessed that he probably needed a bus fare, and so I politely declined, telling him that I was a student, and that I needed to continue studying, and so I couldn't help him. He said "Okay, and good studies," and walked away apparently unoffended. Then I started to feel like a jerk because I had plenty of money in my pocket. So I went and found him coming out of a café and told him, "Hey, sorry but I can help you," and handed him ten francs. He was shocked and said, "Oh, non, non, non!! Ce n'est pas ça!!" he gave me back the money and explained that he had just wanted me to hold the bus 15 for him for a few seconds while he used the bathroom in the café. I apologized, and then had to run and catch my bus. But his made me think about the different ideas of intrusiveness between here and France. It was a huge favor for him to ask me to hold the bus for a few seconds when I should have gladly done it. It seems that the level of intrusion upon others that is acceptable or tolerated here in France is less than that of the States. Of course, I shouldn't read too much into a single incident, but this I the general sense I'm getting. Thaddaeus May

Sunday, September 16

Morning came way too early today. About 4:15 I was rudely awakened from my blissful slumber by my alarm. I spent 4:15 to 4:30 repeatedly hitting the snooze button and cursing at the alarm, the time and mornings in general. Once I was up, it wasn't as bad, and I fell asleep on the car ride to the flea market. The market itself was pretty cool. WE had all our stuff in a trailer, so when we pulled up, about 20-25 people just started opening our boxes and looking through our stuff. I'm sure a fair amount of stuff got stolen in that time because we were all trying to unload, and keep an eye on people at the same time, and the buyers outnumbered us by 5 to 1 at least. After about a half hour, everything calmed down a bit and we (at least, I) had a bit of fun. It was cool to bargain with everyone even if they were stingy. I'd name a price, and the person would say something like half of it. Then I'd lower my price and the person wouldn't budge. Then I'd keep lowering it until it was a couple francs away. Then I'd get angry and the person would have to pay my price or no go. But by then it was like three francs from their initial offer. Stingy French. However, since it wasn't my stuff or money, I didn't care too much. After that, I arrived a bit late to the mass. The mass wasn't bad, but not that great. So formal, it's stifling, but at the same time I like the Latin in it. For some reason, I love Latin. After that, I just ate a baguette until we went to the zoo, where we had some real good pastries. Weldon Miller

Recorded by Carroll Yoder, EMU professor and semester leader:

Friday, August 31

Today begins the public journal of the 2001 France/Côte d'Ivoire cross cultural program. Our group of 22 students met for the last orientation session in the Discipleship Center at 9:00. We followed a brief worship service with a listing of our fears--first a series of worries from the leaders, Nancy and me, and then one fear from each group member. A commissioning service at the close of chapel as well as the presence of friends at the departure circle at 1:30 made us aware of how much home support we had.

We left at 2:00 and arrived a little early for our check-in at Dulles airport. Sara Joy Bergey's parents came from Chesapeake to see their daughter off. The Air France flight went smoothly, arriving at Paris by 8:10 in the morning.

Saturday, September 1

It took a while to collect our bags, validate our Eurail tickets at the train station and buy train/metro tickets into Paris. Almost all luggage now comes equipped with heavy duty wheels which make it easy to negotiate long hallways or even sidewalks. Dragging the largest bags up long flights of steps and through metro turnstiles is quite another matter. Although some students kept their baggage to a minimum, the collective pile we stacked into a storage room of Hotel Migny while waiting for access into our rooms seemed rather formidable.

Jeremy and Jody Byler, members of the 1997 cross cultural group and on their way home from a honeymoon in France, came by to see us during the afternoon and evening. Gladys Vespasien, my French assistant of the past year, arrived around 4:00 in order to meet some of her former students.

Some of us accompanied Gladys on a walk up the Champs Elysées and went for dinner to a restaurant specializing in mussels. Others walked up Montmartre to get a view of the city from the steps of the Sacré Coeur basilica before visiting the Champs Elysées. back to top

Sunday, September 2

After a typical French breakfast of orange juice, coffee, croissants and baguettes, the group left the hotel around 9:00, taking the metro from Pigalle to Nation and then going one stop on the RER to the Gare de Lyon. Due to a mix-up in our reservations we had to settle for a smoking car on the 10:54 train; fortunately we filled up a good part of the car. The high speed TGV (train de grande vitesse) made only one stop at Nîmes so that we arrived at our destination, Montpellier, a city of 250,000 on the Mediterranean by 2:13. Since the families were not scheduled to arrive until 4:51, students spent the afternoon finding something to eat and exploring a bit of the city around the railway station.

Monday, September 3

The Institut Méditerranéen d'Etudes Françaises welcomes students the year around who want to study French. This year the EMU group makes up one fourth of the IMEF September enrollment. Our students found the first morning a real challenge as they were introduced to public transportation (tram and bus), took a placement test, and learned about various cultural activities throughout the week. Because there are students from 23 different countries, announcements and instructions are necessarily in French.

Tuesday, September 4

Following the Monday afternoon walking tour of the old city of Montpellier which has streets and buildings dating from the Middle Ages, we went to a reception for the students organized by the House of International Relations at 5:30. Students then found their way home to their families most of whom do not eat before 8:00 or 8:30 in the evening. By the time Nancy and I finish our coffee with our host family, it is usually at least 10:00 p.m. or later.

IMEF prepares a small booklet (in French of course) for each three or four week session in which students find information about the city, a listing of classes, cultural activities and excursions scheduled especially for them. Classes began on Tuesday morning at 9:00 after students checked lists on the bulletin board to see where they had been placed in one of 9 different groups. At 10:30 everyone gathered at a sidewalk cafe in front of the classroom building to enroll for cultural activities by turning in one of their four orange name tags. If they attend the activity the card is returned to them to be used for other activities. Failure to attend the activity which they have reserved means that they lose a card and eventually would be unable to attend other events. The whole system seemed complicated at first, but it does not take long for the students to catch on. Thus every class day Monday through Friday the students to use their 10:30 to 11:00 a.m. break to sign-up for activities and/or buy coffee, sodas, pastries, etc. Classes then continue until 12:30. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday there are additional workshops from 2:00 until 4:00.

Nancy and I spent considerable time finding out where students are located on our map. I then purchased seven-day tram/bus passes which are practical and relatively inexpensive ($10 per pass). All busses pass by the railway station or cross the tramway line which makes it easy to get to school. The IMEF located in a quiet university and residential area next to the Boutonnet tramway stop about five to seven minutes away from downtown. For lunch one can eat at a university cafeteria or at a couple of restaurants next to the school, or take the tram downtown where there are snack bars, fast food joints or ethnic restaurants. back to top

Wednesday, September 5

The special event today was a film at a downtown theater called "Une Hirondelle a fait le printemps." Most of the students were able to get at least an idea of the story of a Parisian woman who decides to become a farmer and has some unusual difficulties as she takes over a farm and also relates to the former owner, an old peasant who continues to live on the property.

Part of our time was taken up in visiting a family of one of the students in order to clear up some misunderstandings.

Thursday, September 6

This afternoon we made our first trip the beach with the students in the afternoon. Perfect weather made for a relaxing afternoon. We were surprised to find that the water was warm enough for us to enjoy a little swimming.

Friday, September 7

This turned out to be a long, long day because of a reception at a ancient property, the Clos Bergemont, which appears to be in the country but is actually within the city limits. The evening included a paella (rice, seafood and chicken) and traditional occitane dances. Our shuttle bus left too late for us to catch the midnight bus which meant that we had to wait an additional hour and thus did not arrive home until around 1:30.

Saturday, September 8

Nancy and I had an easy, relaxing day on Saturday which was not necessarily the case for the students. Most of them chose to join a canoeing/kayak trip down the gorges of the Hérault river, leaving Montpellier at 9:45 and returning around 6:00. I will make use of their journals to let them tell the story of their day. We took advantage of the day off to explore the city of Montpellier, visit a library, go shopping, make telephone calls and enjoy a leisurely, late evening meal. By the time we finish dinner with coffee or an herbal tea, we usually spend at least an hour and a half at the table. back to top

Sunday, September 9

Today students chose between an all-day excursion to Aigues-Mortes and Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer or a trip to Pézenas, Cap d'Agde and Sète. The former is surrounded by lagoons, vineyards and marshes where salt left by the sea has been harvested for hundreds of years. The perfect example of a medieval fortified town, Aigues-Mortes (dead waters) is situated on the edge of the Mediterranean in the Rhone river delta. Construction of the town began in 1241 under Saint Louis (King Louis IX) who set sail from it on the Seventh Crusade. Finished by the end of the century, the town never became a large modern port because the channels gradually silted in. Inside the 90-foot Constance Tower which was used as a lighthouse and prison one can still see where Marie Durand carved the word "resist" with her fingernails into the stone floor while she was a Protestant prisoner for 38 years. Some of the students were disappointed because they expected to have a relaxing time at the beach after their canoe trip; instead they had a long guided tour in French.

Jean-Paul Cavinet went with the other group to Pézenas, Cap d'Agde and Sète. Those entering the water at Cap d'Agde where there is a beach of black sand (small volcanic pebbles) found the water much colder than a few days ago because of a wind which has been blowing from the north. From the top of Sète we had a spectacular view, catching a glimpse of the Pyrenees Mountains which separate France from Spain. At the harbor Jean-Paul pointed out the fishing boats, telling us about fishermen who leave at 4 in the morning returning in the afternoon except for those who catch tuna and must remain on the sea for weeks or even months at a time.

Monday, September 10

Classes resumed as usual at 9:00. Our days have fallen into a certain routine as we collect four student journals each morning, make some comments and return them to the students either that day or the next. For the students, the most rigorous days are Monday, Wednesday and Friday because of the afternoon workshops.

In the evening Nancy and I met four visitors from Switzerland, one of whom had spent several weeks with our hosts, Roland and Françoise Maurel. We were quite surprised to end up playing the Mennonite game when we discovered that they were Swiss Mennonites; one of the couples had attended the Mennonite World Conference in Winnipeg. The evening meal included barbecued mussels and lasted for well over three hours. back to top

And the students say . . .

Monday, September 3

It is so lonely here. In this place where all I hear is French, I struggle to find comfort without the conversation of those around me. It's strange how my greatest fear--that I'd be lonely in my host family because of the language barrier--has become a challenge I must deal with. . . . Feeling stupid definitely turns my world upside down and I am filled with frustration and panic. Perhaps I am getting a small taste of what it is like to be an immigrant in America, fumbling to survive in the English-speaking society. I have a strong, newly-grown respect for such courageous people seeking to better their life.

Laura Miller

Sunday, September 2

In the train station right before meeting our host families, everybody was a little apprehensive including myself. After meeting our host family and going to her house, the fear and apprehension subsided. My host mother is very kind and gentle. She is a nurse for the homeless. Her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend came over for the evening. Talking with them was fun.

Monday, September 3

We took the IMEF test and it made me feel like I know nothing, but that's o.k. We got familiarized a little with Montpellier because we took a small tour, but it helped a lot.

Tuesday, September 4

First day of classes. Wow! The information wasn't bad; it was just the fact that she talked way too fast.

Aaron Miller

Sunday, September 2

Not much happened the first half of the day. We landed at 8 and spent about 4 hours getting to the hotel. I hate being in a large group with lots of luggage. My bag ripped while walking to the hotel, and we were all just a huge group of American tourists.

Monday, September 3

After lunch we had an extremely long tour of medieval Montpellier. For the first hour I could understand, but after that it was difficult to make myself listen. At the end of that, I wanted nothing more than to sit on my couch at home and mindlessly watch TV. Instead, we got some money and Aaron and I walked around again. After looking in some photo shops, we entered a cathedral we had looked at on the afternoon tour. It was open and we entered. Much better than Sacré Coeur. No one else was there, and with monk chants going on quietly in the background, the experience was very spiritual.

Weldon Miller

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Monday, September 3

I woke up very late and sort of had a groggy time getting started. IN the morning I took the test, and then sort of wandered around the city center with Jean Paul, an IMEF guide. Then we wandered around the city more with EMU folks. Just sort of mingling in loosely organized groups all over the place. Then we went to an introduction from the Montpellier tourism office, or something like that, and they gave us champagne and chips and stuff. We were very loud and everyone could tell who the Americans were, but they would I'm sure even if we had tried to be subtle and European.

Thaddaeus May

Wednesday, September 5

Today was again another long day of French. It started out interesting, though. On my way to school after waking up at 8:40 (classes start at nine) I had a unique experience. I was on the bus which was headed towards the town center where I get the tram. However, instead of going directly to my stop . . . my bus driver decided that he needed gas so . . . he went to the bus station to fill up. Meanwhile about 15 angry bus-riders were wondering what was going on. . . . I pried the door open and walked to the tram.

Andrew Schubert

Monday, September 3

I'm picking up French a lot faster now, and Asmiriam is doing wonders for my vocab. For a six-year-old, she is frightfully sophisticated. She asked me today if I've missed my boyfriend and if I wanted to go to the airport to see him and I was thinking, what six-year-old knows these things. She was also curling her eyelashes yesterday! At six years, I didn't even know what make-up was! But I gave my host mother some flowers so Asmiriam asked me if she got a present too.

Nga Nguyen

Sunday, September 9

What a long exhausting day. I feel like I was in class all day . . . probably because I was. In the morning class we reviewed conjugation and different tenses and that was so good . . . I needed it because I feel like I'm horrible at grammar.

This afternoon's class was interesting. I'm in the culture/geography/history Languedoc class. Like I said, it was interesting, but I didn't get nearly all of it. I find that often I have to concentrate very hard and when I still don't understand, my mind starts wandering and then I miss stuff that I probably could have gotten. It's a vicious cycle sometimes.

Jessica Stauffer

Monday, September 3

The French test at school was very hard, and following it we had a tour of Montpellier. What a cool city . . When I came home today I attempted to speak French with Sofia for two and a half hours. Very much fun! She is a God-send.

Wednesday, September 5

We just met together as a group and shared joys and also negative parts of our experience. It is clear to me, especially after today, that I have been paired with a wonderful family. The only thing I could think of to share about my experience that has been a real frustration was the language barrier, which I was expecting anyway. The first five days have seemed much longer than five. I think the semester will fly b, but feel like it's been a while. Anyway the Ireland group left last night so they are experiencing the same learning/excitement/sadness/wonder that we felt last Friday. France has already exceeded my expectations as I think Ireland will theirs. Our group has been so amazing so far. It's nice to have close friends to experience this all with and at the same time get to know people better day by day.

Bess Steury

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Sunday, September 2

We are now waiting in Montpellier at the train station for our host families to pick us up. I am really nervous. I picked up some postcards and wrote a couple already. I am going to save Duane's till tonight. I even ordered lunch on my own, but it was pitiful effort. I feel so far behind. I wish I had brought the phrase book with my dictionary now. Montpellier is gorgeous and I am eager for the classes. It sounds like we are going to do a lot of group projects or group trips along with the normal classes.

Wednesday, September 5

I am feeling a lot better about being here. I woke up late this morning (an hour and a half!!) and thought the day was all downhill, but it wasn't too bad. I was still only a little late for class. The classes were easier today, especially after Laura told the teacher that she talked too fast and no one could understand her.

Erin Wentorf

Saturday, September 1

It has been my dream for many many years to return to Paris. Now that I'm here, I don';t feel ;much. It just feels like a normal day in a big city. I'm not quite sure if that's good or bad. All I'm sure of right now is that I am very hungry and tired.

Sunday, September 2

Long before the train arrived in Montpellier, the fear began to creep in. What would Mme Nothhelfer be like? How old is she? Is there a family? Do they speak any English? Will I like them? Will they like me? As Nga and I wandered through the streets near the train station, I came to realize the importance of those questions. When trying communicate with a store clerk or hotel manager, if we are unable to communicate, I can simply walk away from the situation. That isn't the case with my family. Whether I like it or not, I am going to be with them for the next three weeks. That's a frightening though.

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Tuesday, September 4

Well, we had our first day of class today. There are seven Germans, one girl from the U.K., Esther, Weldon and I. There are a couple who are always very quick to answer questions. They all seem to know more vocab than I as well. Fortunately, I also noticed that they fumble around some when forming sentences.

Wednesday, September 5

It's so hard for me to decide which of the IMEF activities to do. I wish I could do them all, but I can't. Tonight I wanted to go to the cinema, but I hadn't told my family that I was going and I didn't want to not show up for dinner if she'd prepared some for me. I guess there are worse things in life than missing a movie.

Lindsay Williams

Sunday, September 2

I was motion sick, homesick, worried-sick, and hungry all at once. I had no idea how to even imagine my next three weeks. We were about to go into host families, and they were about to arrive to pick us up. As we all sat in a group with piles of luggage all around us, we started to see people arrive that looked like they would be our host families. We were all surveying the crowd, trying to guess which one was there to pick us up. My mind was full of unanswered questions and I wanted to be back at the hotel in Paris.

Monday, September 3

I said farewell to my mom and was reunited with the group. It was so good to see them. I felt like I had not seen them in days. Everyone had so much to tell. I found out that I was the only one living out in the country. Everyone's home sounded so different. . . I . . learned that the French count with their fingers by starting with their thumb, while Americans start with their first finger.

Tuesday, September 4

I am slowly learning how to eat with a fork in my left hand a knife in my right. I was very scared of foreign food before I came, but I am learning to love French cuisine.

Wednesday, September 5

It is hard to call someone that is 7 time zones away, and French keyboards are all messed up so that's impossible to type a quick email.

Thursday, September 6

Everything so far has exceeded my expectations. I thought I would be lonely, but I'm not. I thought I wouldn't want to learn French, but I'm enjoying it. And I thought I would hate France, but I love it.

Kristy Waltner

Tuesday, September 4

This morning we received our group assignments, and I am in group 7. I'm not sure about the material because today we practiced simple conversation which I am quite familiar with, unlike many of the other people in the group. However, it seems as though they have larger vocabularies, so that makes us even. I like the people in the group--they all seem very friendly. I am the only American. I especially like the fact that no one else from my group (EMU) is with me. However, there is still a lot of English thrown around because everyone is very fluent. There are Germans, Spaniards, Japanese, Saudi-Arabians, Norwegians, and Indonesians. And they all speak English! So, if a student cannot understand, English is used to explain.

Thursday, September 6

I have such a great appreciation for the other students in this program. Many of them are fluent in English as well as their native language. For some this is their fourth or fifth language. To be able to actually think in so many languages is an incredible accomplishment. I guess I have always known that my Grandma is fluent in French, German and English but have never really though about the concentration, talent and intelligence it requires.

Sarah Troyer

Tuesday, September 4

This evening I showed my host mother my scrapbook. She seemed to enjoy it, but completely skipped over the essays because she couldn't understand It made me wish that I had put in a lot more pictures. Some things were really difficult to explain. For example, she was very curious about why I wanted to go to school so far from home. It takes me a long time to explain that in English and I definitely couldn't think of a way to do it in French, so I just shortened it to "I like the university" because that's all I could think of to translate for her.

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Saturday, September 8

Today was canoeing which was also a great time. Thaddaeus and I were partners and we had a great time talking and going down the river. He used to lead canoe tour type things for a camp so he was really good. We kept going down the small rapids backwards or sideways just for fun. It seemed like a relaxing day although I'm sure my arms will hurt tomorrow. Right now it's about 9:00 p.m. and I think I'm heading to bed soon. It will be nice to get a full night's rest. It seems like we're always going somewhere all the time and we're always walking too so I get drained.

Teresa Christner

Tuesday, September 4

The classes started today. The professor is very good; she does a very good job with us beginners. I think I learned a lot from today's class. Later we went to the Mediterranean Sea. It was beautiful, albeit a little cold. It was a very fun trip. For dinner we ate at the house of a family friend. Dinners are an all-night event it seems.

Wednesday, September 5

I stood waiting for the bus, and there I stood as the bus rolled pas me. S---! Evidently you must wave down the bus to get it to stop. Today wasn't such a good day for the learning either. We had our first workshop today. It was less than encouraging. Let's just say I have to work on the French alphabet. The last thing for today was the movie. Fortunately I figured out the story line without needing to understand the words. It was still very interesting. This day I will as a learning experience and leave it at that.

Thursday, September 6

My host family is starting to help me with my French now. They are saying phrases in French or having a conversation with me in French till they tired of my blank stares. I think it will be good for my learning if I am interacting with the language more.

Clint Buck

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Thursday, September 6

Things I've noticed:

--The French turn off the light when they leave the room and close the door.

--Random dogs everywhere.

--Bread is kept on table, not plate.

--No more than one kind of food on the plate at a time. Example: main dish, then salad, then cheese, then dessert.

--No shower curtains (some have them, not mine)

--Pink toilet paper

--Everyone smokes

--Spoon is at top of plate, on table.

--Many men wear Capri pants.

--Not many overweight people; have only seen maybe 5 to 8.

--Cars are mushed up; very small.

--People park and stop wherever they want.

--They buy supplies for dinner right before dinner.

French bread in the States is a joke--not French at all. Bread here is hard, hard but very good.

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Saturday, September 8

We went canoeing all day! It was soooo fun! The ride there was beautiful, too. The driver stopped the bus and let us take pictures of the river from above.

My partner was Clint. We had so much fun! By the end of the trip we said we were professionals. We did pretty good. We only got stuck on the rapids once. A few people tipped over--funny to see but not for them I guess. I chose the yellow oar because yellow is my favorite color and it would bring me good luck. So I told Clint. And it did.

The trip was 12 kilometers, about 8 miles I think. It was nice because we took breaks a lot, to swim, eat, jump off cliffs, etc. Everyone had a great time.

The last stretch was the most fun for me. Clint and I played the question game. You just ask questions to get to know the people better. The last stretch was also the hardest because it was so windy!

Sara Joy Bergey

Friday, August 31

It was so hard leaving home last night. When we were pulling out of the circle at school, I almost yelled out, "Stop! I don't want to go!" However, instead I shed a few tears and persevered.

The bus and plane ride were not bad, even though I didn't get any sleep. But once we arrived, I wished I had. I also wished I hadn't brought so many gifts. I felt like we were never going to stop walking. And dragging all of that luggage was unbearable.

Monday, September 3

Well, today started out really crappy. Yesterday we were told that we would not have to travel alone in the morning to get to IMEF. Well, my host family didn't take me to school, but put me on a bus. And worse than that, I was late for school. Then we had to take a placement test . . and then we took a tour of Montpellier, I was stupid and wore shoes that I had never worn before. Now I have blisters on my foot. But today wasn't all bad. I made it home safely and was able to rest. I also was able to communicate in French better.

Sunday, September 9

Today we went on a tour . . where horses were everywhere (I loved it) and then to Aigues-Mortes where we walked around a fortress. It was so cool! . . . Though it was neat to see, we were all really tired and I could wait to get home and sleep, but when I did get home, I talked to my host family and ate supper. Then, in French I asked my host dad to play his guitar for me. He is really good and I felt so at home because I love the guitar and I miss hearing my friends play. After that I went to bed.

Jana Bentch

Wednesday, August 29

This week seems to be dragging on forever. I feel so weird, and `I just want to get out of here. `I don't know what to expect or how I should be feeling. I wish everything just felt right but I seem to be questioning so much and I'm sad because I'm missing out on my friends lives and that's so hard and its so real right now. It's never been this hard before. I'm sure things will look up once I'm on my way, but until then I need to figure

something out. I guess I just need to live moment by moment.

Monday, September 3

I spent all day walking Montpellier and not understanding a thing JP said and came home apprehensive of what would happen. Mama Français sat down at dinner and we had a pretty good conversation. I only said a few words, but we seemed to communicate pretty well. I'm feeling more and more comfortable and I now realize what a blessing my trip to Germany was. Everything is so great because I have no choice but to speak French with her. Maybe I really will learn! Tomorrow we start classes, and I'm really excited about that too! My brother is 20. His name is Maxim and he's very cool.

Thursday, September 6

I really started to think about the group dynamics. In some ways I feel so lucky to have two of my dearest friends and a couple of my other good friends on this trip. I'm getting to share one of the most amazing and life changing experiences I'll ever have with people I love and look at like sisters. But a the same time, Isee the people who aren't in the same

situation and I just want them to have that feeling too and I wonder if the lack of my friends presence would make this a completely different trip? I'm excited to get to know each of the people on this trip better and I hope that the fact I already have good friends here doesn't affect that. Each day I learn something new about someone in the group and it's really cool to see the first impressions I had dwindle. I hope that these next few months open up opportunities for new and different relationships to form. I think that the coolest part of the EMU cross cultural program is the change that involves everybody. After freshman year,the situation at school is always changing and because of cross cultural our minds and

hearts are opened to the people we through were different. I saw it in my friends who left last year and I'm seeing the beginning of it now in myself. It's pretty cool.

Adrea Kuhns

Sunday, September 9

We bought postcards, my friends and I, that showed how to make a traditional dish from the Mediterrean that is called La Tielle de Sète. This is a food that is similar in form to a calzone but round and filled with tomatoes and sea food (squid).
When we were coming back, we were missing one of the guys from the whole group. He had thought the meeting place was somewhere else. Good thing he came back. Good day. After the exc ursion I came home and relaxed, prepared for the next day.

Victor Diez de Medina

Saturday, September 8, 2001

I didn't have any excursions today, which was very nice because I could do what I wanted when I wanted. Being in a host family has really helped a lot in my quest to learn French, more than livng in the school housing. It is very funny when my host mother tries to explain something in English . . . because her English is like my French. But we both struggle through and we all have fun and learn something.

Aaron Miller

Reports from Ivory Coast

To all of our loyal families and friends: thanks you so much for your support (prayers, email, letters). Our stay in Ivory Coast continues to go well. Instead of giving a detailed account of the activities since our arrival in Abidjan on October 26 (nearly a day late because of a postponed flight), I will provide a summary statement or two for each day and then allow student journal entries to give you the true picture of what has been happening.

Friday, October 26

Steve, Matt and Kashale welcomed us at the airport and arranged transportation to a guest house where a mid-afternoon meal of spaghetti was waiting for us. Later that evening we walked to a restaurant for a meal of grilled chicken, fish, rice, French fries, manioc, sweet potatoes, etc.

Nancy and I were delighted with our apartment at SIL (Wycliff) offices.

Saturday, October 27

Orientation at the Cocody church compound, a walk to the market, and another African meal took up the morning and early afternoon. Students left with their families for the weekend around 5:00.

Sunday, October 28

We saw Kristy, Aaron, Victor and Bess at the large Baptist church located on the compound where we meet in the afternoons for French classes. The two and half hour long service included a lot of music. We relaxed in the afternoon and in the evening I discussed the organization of the French classes with Kashale and the two teachers, Augustine and Caroline.

Monday, October 29

We met at 9:00 in a classroom of a communication school. to hear students tell about the weekend with their families. At 10:30 Mr. and Mrs. Kouadio spoke about the Ivorian family, relationships, behavior, etc. French classes (four different groups) met from 2:30 to 4:30 for the first time and will continue each afternoon.

Tuesday, October 30

We settled into our normal routine which includes a 10-15 minute devotional period, a class which I teach and a lecture by a visiting speaker (which I usually translate). Today we began a discussion of Monnew, a novel by Ahmadou Kourouma. At 10:30 Steve Wiebe-Johnson spoke to us about the mission work that he and his wife Dorothy are doing here in Abidjan.

Wednesday, October 31

The class focused on an anthropological book, African and the Africans. At 10:30 we were entertained by a musicologist, Adepo Yapo and his assistants who demonstrated instruments and various dances.

Thursday, November 1

This morning we discussed Monnew again and then heard a lecture on the ethnic groups of Ivory coast by Professor Gonnin.

Friday, November 2

Once a week we schedule an excursion. Today we took taxis to the Plateau (the Manhattan of Abidjan) to shop for cloth. That was followed by a two-hour tour of the harbor, a birthday celebration for Victor at our apartment and then a late meal at a dance center, Kiti Mbock followed by a remarkable performance later in the evening.

Saturday, November 3

A day to relax. I located my former tailor and Nancy prepared an evening meal for our guests, Steve and Dorothy Wiebe-Johnson, Annelise Goldschmidt and Matt Krabill.

Sunday, November 4

I went to the Harrist church in Anono (where Allan and Adrea attend). In the evening we attended the international church (English speaking) that featured a praise band and a sermon by a visiting speaker from the U.S.

Monday, November 5

We enjoyed hearing more stories about the weekend, discussed African and the Africans and then listened to a lecture by Caroline Oulai (one of the French teachers) on African literature. French classes as usual in the afternoon.

Tuesday, November 6

Class time was spent with The Village of Waiting which the students could relate to their own experiences. We then visited an AIDS clinic in Treichville during the rest of the morning.

Wednesday, November 7

Monnew was followed by a lecture on the politics in Ivory Coast by Professor Souman Yadi.

Thursday, November 8

The excursion to Grand Bassam by taxi and bus featured souvenir shopping and a pool on the beach. One must not swim in this area because of the dangerous rip tides.

Friday, November 9

After a discussion of our objectives and Monnew, we heard Professor Yadi again. This time he spoke on the educational system of Ivory Coast. We were all invited for a meal to the home of Steve and Dorothy this evening.

Needless to say, the students loved the chance to relax with the family.

Saturday, November 10

We relaxed at home, studied, took a walk and visited with a pastor and his wife who stopped in.

Sunday, November 11

I gave the morning message at one of Raymond Eba's Anabaptist congregations in Yopougon. It was a lively service under a tent complete with a music group and big loudspeakers.

Monday, November 12

Monnew again and then a discussion of the Ivorian economy by Professor Touré who failed to answer satisfactorily the students' questions about the lack of small change. Almost every purchase (taxi, noon meals, market purchases) becomes a contest to see who will give up small change.

Tuesday, November 13

There was no special lecture today. Instead we had photos taken and filled out visa applications for Ghana.

Wednesday, November 14

We discussed The Village of Waiting, the students' favorite book. We also had time to read various articles about Africa and then report on them.

Thursday, November 15

Professor Niangoran spoke about talking drums and with the help of his assistants demonstrated how they can send messages. He is well-known here as the founder of the study of drummology.

Matt, Kashale, Nancy and I all agree that we have an exceptional group of students. They get along well as a group, are making a real effort to fit in with their families and are taking seriously their own spiritual, intellectual and social growth. We are all looking forward to visiting Tata, a village that Matt knows well from his childhood days this weekend, leaving Friday and returning Sunday.

And the students say . .

Wednesday, October 24

At midnight Sarah and Erin and I went to email. Our hours increased because it was so late, so we got three or so hours for about ten francs. I finally got to email my friends individually. That was a great feeling. Although I was incredibly tired I'm really glad we did it. We took a cab back to the hotel. I was a little nervous beforehand, but it was really simple. I was very glad. When we got back Jess was asleep so I had to pack in the dark.

That was an interesting challenge. I don't think that I'll try that one again.

Lindsay Williams

Wednesday, October 24

Last chance to go to the Louvre, but the workers were still on strike.

This is the most disappointing thing because . . I wanted . . to at least see the Mona Lisa. Oh, well. So we went to the Champs Elysées and walked around for a while until I decided to go buy some things.

I saw the Pantheon instead (of the Louvre). I saw the pendulum which hangs from the ceiling of the dome and has been working to show the rotation of the earth. The pendulum changes the angle by 11 degrees every hour.

Victor Diez de Medina

Thursday, October 25

Quite a range of emotions today. At the beginning, nervousness and excitement. Then disappointment and frustration. Now simply fatigue. But somehow through it all, a sense of peace as well. We leaded the vans and left by 9 because of the possible metro strike and supposed traffic.

Arriving at the airport around 9:45, we prepared to wait around till the plane left at 2. However, we waited much longer than that. First there was a problem with some leak on the plane, then a bomb scare and the waiting room was evacuated. Finally around 6:45 we boarded, then took off at least an hour later. We were only up in the air for about 45 minutes when they told us that the leak wasn't fixed so we were going back to Paris. There was a long line to get hotel room. . . Eventually we all got through the line. We went to one hotel to eat dinner (at midnight!) then headed to our luxurious four star hotel. Jess and I played in our room for a little while and watched some TV, then headed for bed.

Teresa Christner

Friday, October 26

I spent approximately six and one half hours today watching Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregger fall into a love that will last for all time, Ashley Judd discover that not all men are jerks and an Irish couple go through the trials of relationships. Indulging myself in Hollywood like that made it seem even less real that I was going to Africa.

For some reason, I had been expecting to go into culture shock the minute our plane touched down. Not the case. The kids at the airport who tried to help with my bags were a little crazy, but they didn't seem all that unusual. And really, seeing markets set up all along the highway and women carrying things didn't seems nearly as shocking as I had expected. Perhaps that is because I was expecting it. I think maybe I've read of too many anglo-saxon missionaries getting off the boat and being appalled by the heathens of the Dark Continent.

Lindsay Williams

Saturday, October 27

It's hard for me to believe that I'm really here. There is too much to say. I have experienced a week's worth in only one day, and don't know where to begin the recap. I'm a little nervous, a little excited but most of all just exhausted and overwhelmed. This isn't a huge city like I picture; it is nothing like Chicago or Paris or Barcelona. There are lots of trees, sand roads, and chickens wandering around--not what you'd see in other big cities. We got a walking tour of the part of the city where we will have school. We went by so many vendors and saw our first African market.

At 4 our families came to pick us up. We had a short ceremony and then left to our houses where we will be living for the next five weeks. I have a great family. They are so nice and welcoming. It is a young couple and a two and a half year old little girl. . . I wish I could speak French. I hate when I am not able to answer the little girl's questions or when my host parents have to explain things over and over and I still don't understand.

Kristy Waltner

Sunday, October 28

I woke up pretty early. The praying had already started . . . a good hour before church started. The living room had had all of the couches taken out and lots of chairs put in. Around 8:30 the service began, but I didn't understand that it was time to start because it seemed just the same sort of praying noise that I had been hearing all morning. So someone came and got me finally and I was not that late. Church was good. Sara Joy had a head covering on and looked pretty funny. My host brother Alexis (a nephew I think) sort of led the service, but Steve Wiebe-Johnson preached. The sermon was good. He told a story of a woman in Benin who was heard praying in her church, very fervently, for the destruction of her competition in the market. "Is that the love of Christ?"

Thaddaeus May

Sunday, October 28

. . . My sister just told me I need to be up at 6:30 tomorrow. C'est tôt.

I'm already tired just knowing. So anyway, I woke up, hung out with the extended family for a while. I showed my sisters my scrapbook and they didn't seem too interested. I almost didn't want to because thinking about my family started making me real sad. Then my sister and Eric and I went for a walk. We bought a CHICKEN. A real live one. It was hilarious. Eric asked if I wanted to carry it. Ha, ha. We brought it home. It was getting late and I was reminding myself that the sun set at 6:30 and it gets a little scary. I was served a huge dinner in front of the TV because the table was full. I had more spicy food for dinner so I drank 5 cups of water, which I've probably sweat out of my system by now. It is hot here.

Today had its ups and downs, but overall was better than yesterday. . . . I think this journal will really become my friend here in Abidjan.

Bess Steury

Sunday, October 28

I don't have time to write all my first impressions, but I'll end with some sensory perceptions--a skyline of gray and beige buildings with colorful cloth hanging out to dry (seen this afternoon from our roof with storm clouds moving in); the constant stickiness of sweat no matter where I go, and the coldness (refreshing) of a shower with absolutely no hot water; sitting outside writing and hearing the sound of neighbors shuffling past the gate outside, Vicki singing just inside in our room and Martha singing something else a little further off and the din of the TV inside; and finally, the smell of always imminent rain, of fish bones and banana peels.

I like being here at home. I wish I could spend all of the 5 weeks in here, separated form anyone that would harbor ideas of taking advantage of my perceived wealth and lack of knowledge of the culture. I'm really not looking forward to the trips to and from school everyday.

Jessica Stauffer

Monday, October 29

My father was a bit late but we only took one gbaka. My mother hugged me and got my water ready for a shower. While I waited I helped cut vegetables and with another woman (servant?) and my mom. Supper was a good big salad.

I tried to eat a lot since I don't feel I've eaten enough veggies. I like them so much more than I did. I helped with clearing the table and my mother was very grateful. She later came into my room and brushed my hair for me and gave me some brushes since I don't brush my hair and don't have any brushes. She did my hair in a funny braid and it was neat. I then wrote some small letters and tried to read a bit. And after that I got ready for bed. I think I found an answer to the question of roaches. I killed a couple before bed and made sure that I couldn't find any others.

Then I shoved T-shorts in the cracks under the door. I wasn't sure if it would work, but when I woke up in the middle of the night I didn't see any.

Yeah!

Erin Wentorf

Tuesday, October 30

I was accompanied to school again today which was nice. In class we heard a little history of the many different African churches and the missionary work being done here. I like to see how cheap I can eat for lunch and today was the cheapest so far--only one dollar. But for that I got a papaya, four lemons, a whole pineapple and two pains aux raisins. I don't know if I can beat that, but I will try. Walked home because it gives me a better view of the city . . .

I live in what we would call a low income high rise apartments. . . . My supper was interesting tonight. I was served a whole fish with everything still attached. I was a little apprehensive about eating it, but did and enjoyed it. Then my brother and I took turns reading from a book in the other person's language. It was fun and helped both of us in our pronunciation and reading skills.

Aaron Miller

Tuesday, October 30

How do you know you are in Africa?

1. Your house is half indoor and half outdoor.

2. They use bushes to sweep the floor!

3. Cook really close to the floor.

4. Your hair has never seemed so blond.

5. You forget what wearing pants feels like.

6. What's a mirror?

7. Your family speaks at least two languages.

8. People try to sell you everything and anything.

9. The food is spicy.

10. If you get the best tan of your life you still have the whitest skin visible.

11. In a city of four million roosters wake you up each morning.

12. Sweat, sweat, sweat.

Adrea Kuhns

Wednesday, October 31

Tonight we had fish again--this time the whole thing. I was served three entire fish and one was too filling for me already. I just can't seem to eat as much as my host mother would like. She told me tonight again that they are going to make me fat and, in fact so fat that Ryan won't recognize me at the airport. I'm trying very hard to combat all these gigantic evening meals with very small lunches consisting solely of fruit. I'm very much reminded of Hawaii when I eat fresh pineapple, papayas and mangoes. I have to make sure I tell my father that I ate a mango for lunch today. His favorite food while living in Zaire was mango pie.

Sarah Troyer

Wednesday, October 31

I seriously think that I have so much on my mind that I don't even know where to begin thinking. I guess that first of all, I love it here. It's also really different. So far my least favorite thing is the gbaka, but it's kind of a game. I feel like I'm caught in a giant game. Yesterday was a good day. After school I just chilled with the family minus a few members and we ate and then I studied. Today I've been thinking about so much.

Tonight after school Allan came over and it rained and we played Parcheesi except it's called something different here. After it stopped raining we all went to Anono, the village.

Adrea Kuhns

Wednesday, October 31

When I got home Ange had dressed my big backpack in a dress and a Halloween mask. That was the first thing that actually made it feel like Halloween.

Another thing that I thought was really neat was that my host mother included me in a scripture reading and meditation. I read part of the scripture and she helped me with my pronunciation. I hope this is something that will continue to happen. It would help me learn French much quicker.

Clint Buck

Thursday, November 1

I am so glad to be in my bed right now. It's so nice to get this alone time. Just spent three hours for bible study. Thought I was going to poke my eyes out. So tired, hot, hungry, and not understanding much. The services are too long. I think I will decline going to them from now on.

They say I can stay or go. I feel like I have so much to do--so much reading, scrapbook, journaling, etc. Don't feel like I have three hours to spare.

Sara Joy Bergey

Thursday, November 1

The family in has taught me so many things of the culture, but I still feel I need more and more to learn. Today my sister Charlotte found a name for me in Yacouba. This is the language they speak as a family besides the French, and it has confused me many times. My name in their mother tongue is Kouado. She told me it means unity in the sense that all human beings are one and equal. I guess . . they chose this name because of all the talk we had about human beings in the world and cultural differences. We also talked about blacks, whites, Indians, Hispanics, etc. and how we all see each other.

Victor Diez de Medina

Friday, November 2

Today was a good day. I walked to school by myself about halfway. We did a little praying at Esther's because her family was a bit behind. We couldn't find a single woro-woro so we had to take a taxi to school. From school we went to the post office. Then we took taxis to Woodin and the pagne street. I found a few things I liked but decided on only one thing.

I'll have a shirt made out of it. We got some lunch and then we walked to the boat place and took a nice long ride on the boat. I sat on a top with Bess, Adi, and S.J. That was fun. We also stopped at a little island where Kristy and I lay in hammocks for a while. We also pulled up beside a tuna fishing boat. About 10 of the sailors were on the side and they started shouting at some of the girls and asking for their addresses. It was kind of funny and kind of annoying because even on a boat away from the city we drew attention.

Weldon Miller

Saturday, November 3

Today was filled with fun, fear, beauty and thanksgiving. We are all tired and glad to be home safely. My family, along with Jana's family (18 of us all together) crammed into a van and drove about 2 hours to the beach. That was an adventure in itself. . . . It was a beautiful drive, great to see sights outside the city. Once we finally got there, we had to take all our stuff (African DO NOT pack light) onto a boat to cross the lagoon and get to the beautiful beach. I was amazed by the beauty of the wide beach, clear warm water and abandoned tranquillity. We had a huge picnic lunch of the normal rice, couscous and sauce and then headed for the ocean. . . I was conscious to stay in shallow water, before the breakers because of the warning I'd received about rough waters. . . . I started to go out towards the kids, but they started yelling to get out. . . They were yelling for help and their parents sprinted over. . . The men were able to drag them in and praise God they were o.k. aside from being tired and scared.

Needless to say, it changed the tone of the group entirely and we were all so thankful for God's protection.

Laura Miller

Monday, November 5

Class was good today. We talked about Africa and the Africans and then had a lecture on colonization. For lunch I ate 10 nems at 100 francs a piece, white rice at 300 francs for a total of 1300 CFA, ($2.00). After school I went with Madame Lago to the tailor for two pants and two shirts. The man started at 10,000 CFA and after many "Pardon!" or "C'est trop cher" responses she got his price down to 6,500.

Andrew Schubert

Monday, November 11

I read a bit in Village of Waiting tonight--it really is a great book.

Well written to really evoke a lot of emotion--at least I find it that way.

I thought I was done for the evening until I got to the "Footprints" chapter. Skimming the first paragraph got me hooked. Packer's whole revelation after the whole theft trial was absolutely amazing. It couldn't read fast enough, but I wanted to savor every phrase. It really resonated with something in me and I love when that happens. That's what made me love reading throughout my entire life.

Jessica Stauffer

Tuesday, November 6

Today I went to the supermarket and bought some candy and the lady said she didn't have change so she pushed my stuff aside and began ringing up the people behind me. If I could speak perfect French, I would have told her exactly what I thought of her. There are words for that in English. I was fuming, and I knew I couldn't speak perfectly what I wanted. I grabbed my stuff and went with Victor.

Nga Nguyen

Tuesday, November 6

Each day begins the same . . . I wake up too early, to the rooster's crow or the scratching of the broom on cement. I lie in bed until I have to get up. I take a quick shower. The water is so cold I turn it off to rub the shampoo into my hair. I get dressed. I wear everything in rotation and I go to the table for breakfast: coffee, water, bread and either an egg or a yogurt. And I walk to school. Quickly. I begin to sweat. I ignore all the stares. I smile at children on their way to school, and I catch a woro-woro. It's funny how you find yourself in the same place, at a different time, doing exactly the same thing. It becomes routine. It is my morning and my evening.

Bess Steury

Tuesday, November 6

This morning we went to visit Hope World Wide which is the AIDS clinic here. It seems like a good program where they offer not only medical help but also psychological, some financial, and also have a prevention program designed by the people for the people. Things seem to be very efficient.

The director (Mark Aiguirre) was really nice and gave us great insight into the problem of AIDS here. . . . I admire the director and the others that work there. It definitely would not be an easy job, but it's one that needs to be done . . .

Teresa Christner

Wednesday, November 7

I had a dream last night that the budget ran out of money and the whole group got sent home. I was disappointed in my dream that I was simply bawling about it and actually woke up with a few tears in my eyes. It was a little weird, but it has also given me some sort of peace as well. Like subconsciously I know I would be extremely upset to cut the African trip short even though all I want to do at the moment is take a plane home. With those thoughts in my head I decided to try as best I can to make the most of each day here. To try to wish for home less and just enjoy being here.

That change in attitude seems to have helped even today. I was more comfortable around my family and talked quite a bit more than usual.

Teresa Christner

Wednesday, November 7

. . . It's like I have two different selves--one that is here in Africa noticing, experiencing, analyzing everything that's going on and realizing what an eye-opening experience this is, and the other is off in a constant dream world of "when-I-get-home"s and 'only-such-and-such-more days." And they seem to co-exist and take turns beating my brain in when it complains that I can't function like this. I'm exhausted from trying to sort it all out. I want to go to bed early.

Jessica Stauffer

Thursday, November 8

Wow! Today was great! We met at school at about 8:00 a.m. and headed out to Grand Bassam. . . on the way we stopped at the shops that I had seen on Saturday. I was so happy. There was so much stuff. So I started bargaining with the vendors. . . . When we got to the beach we actually walked to this really nice hotel with a nice pool. We got to go swimming in the pool and lay out and went down on the beach a little. It was so much fun! . . . When we got back to Abidjan we caught woro-woros and headed back to Cocody. . . It was pouring down rain and there was so much traffic.

What should have been a 20 minute drive turned into an hour drive. . .

Jana Bentch

Friday, November 9

We rushed to school in the rain today. Fortunately there is a little lean-to shelter in Ciad where we could wait for the woro-woro. The palm leaves kept most of the rain off until the woro-woro arrived. This time our car had windshield wipers, so it was an easy trip to Cocody. We tried to walk from there like we usually do, but it began to pour. Weldon rushed me to an awning, and from there we watched for an empty taxi. The driver dropped us off right near school so we only got slightly wet compared to the others. . . .

The speaker on education was discouraging. He said that he didn't know why anyone would want to come to the Ivory Coast and teach in its conditions.

In the lower grades there is still the seventy or so students to a class thing going on. It was odd that he would talk so forcefully against teachers coming, but maybe he was just being polite and realistic. Jess said an interesting comment in one of our discussions, and it was that she wouldn't be able to come here for mission work because she feels too much in the way--she disrupts the pattern too much. That's a pretty good description of the fear I have; I don't want to disrupt, but help.

Esther Harder

Sunday, November 11

Our taxi on the way to church this morning started smoking--on the interior. Turns out the exhaust from the car was never really leaving the car, except for through the driver and passenger-side windows. The driver had taken off the window cranks in the back so we couldn't roll down the windows. Awesome. Church was a breeze today at 2 1/2 hours. It's almost like I didn't even go. Lunch. Nap. Reading. Then a sermon to the family by Michael (Is he practicing to be a pastor?). And a prayer for Martial's studies. We walked around for a bit and I checked email. Then I wrote a big email to the family on their computer here. Supper was aloko, beans, avocado stuff and oranges. More reading. I finished Monnew.

Brad Hoffman

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