Visit of Fléac Primary School to Abernyte and Inchture Primary Schools. May 24th - 29th
What a week! A marathon journey by bus and train to get here, then wonderful weather and new experiences for all involved.
The Twinning committee would like to thank so many of you; the brave hosts, willing to open their homes and hearts to the French children,accompanying parents and teachers from Fléac, despite language barriers; the bus drivers who cheerfully brought everyone here, and acted as a big taxi for all, ferrying to and from the two schools; and last but not least, the Head teachers, staff and pupils of the two schools, who were so welcoming to the visitors, and who planned and shared some brilliant events enjoyed, not only by the Scottish and French children, but by many other members of the community who were invited to drop in during the week.
Well done both schools! A huge ‘merci’ to all.
We hope you will enjoy reading the accounts of new hosts, how fears were overcome, and how they hope this event will happen again.
A Chord was Struck
“Oui” said francophile Tricia, scared to say no to Anne D, and excited at the chance to practice her favourite language, “of course we can host a family. “Oh no” Ron muttered, trying to suppress franchophobia and flashbacks to a 1974 O Grade Exam.
Our visiting ‘family’ consisted of gentle homesick Arnauld struggling to fit his 6’4” under the cottage door frame, and fellow bus driver Dominic, with a whiff of Gauloise, medallion and some edgy tattoos. Evening one was an exchange of pleasantries. Evening two was a little quieter. By evening three even Tricia had run out of vocabulary. Awkward silences were stretching ever longer. Then a chord was struck – well actually an A minor, G, F then E – and Dominic’s eyes and ears ignited with enthusiasm as he recognised a rumba flamenco cadence. What are the odds of a bus driver of flamenco gypsy stock meeting a flamenco obsessed guitarist in rural Perthshire? Well, meet we did, and we had a blast. Arnaud and Tricia looked askance as the Dom and Ron show unfolded in claps, strums and stamps complete with a lively dialogue of Andalucía Gypsy phrases - the music and language of flamenco.
“Gracias” said Ron, we can host Spanish flamencos anytime. “Mais non” said Tricia, this was supposed to be a French exchange.
Twinning First Timers
Our daughter, Abi, was very excited by the idea of some French children coming to stay, my husband, Paul, told me he could speak French and so we decided to take the plunge and sign up. We heard nothing for ages and then suddenly, or so it seemed, they were arriving!
We agreed to host three girls. This worked well because they were company for each other, but as they were all a bit older than Abi, I think she missed out a little bit. Although they were all lovely with her there was not the same pressure for them to get to know each other. It was tough for Abi speaking no French and feeling a bit shy to get used to miming. But once she got the hang of it she had a lovely time and missed them desperately when they left.
They were no bother – ate everything we cooked for them, played happily in the garden on the trampoline or inside on the Wii whenever they did not have an activity planned. We had very little time left that we needed to fill as every day except one they had evening activities planned.
But communication was tough. The girls spoke very little English (one girl was not even learning it at school!) and I have not used my French since school. I found that as the week went on I was able to understand more, but whenever I wanted to say something I could only think of the German – not deeply helpful! We survived with the help of online translation websites (which didn’t work well for the girls as they could not type fluently), French-English dictionaries and lots of acting out and Paul’s ability to make the girls laugh (It turned out his French consisted mainly of “mon ami”!).
We really enjoyed our time as hosts. I think the French children are incredibly brave – I can’t imagine sending my daughter to a country where she can barely communicate, to live with strangers for a week. But they seemed to enjoy themselves and we did too! Sine
One of the main reasons I volunteered to be a twinning host was to encourage my daughter’s interest in learning about other countries and cultures, and to reinforce the value of being able to speak a second language.
Originally I volunteered to have three French girls. I was keen for an adult to stay too because my French is very limited. We love Eloise’s friends staying, so when the school phoned to ask if I could take more children, I thought that would be fine. I began to have second thoughts when people seemed incredulous that I was having so many to stay. I needn’t have worried. They were just lovely and I think more relaxed because they were with a larger group of friends. All of the girls slept in Eloise’s bedroom - wall-to-wall mattresses, inflatable beds and duvets borrowed from friends.
Having their teacher to stay too was definitely a good idea as communication was so much easier, though she was totally exhausted after their long journey and busy events program.
Eloise was worried that the girls would leave her out but most of the time she was the centre of attention and they made friends very quickly. I'm pretty sure the experience has given her more confidence to learn and speak French too.
The Twinning Association was very helpful, and the events were a great way to meet other local people and share the experience. It was fun, but also hard work preparing so many breakfasts and evening meals, and the washing-up was never-ending, but I’m looking forward to doing it again.
I was excited when I heard we were going to have some French children to stay, but also a bit worried because they were all older than me. When they arrived they seemed very nice, just like Scottish children except for their language. They didn’t talk very much to start with, they just said ‘hello’. We had five French children to stay and their teacher. They each brought presents for me and for my Mum. I came to know them because they started to have a pillow fight, and I joined in. They talked a bit more after that and we became friends and we talked in hand language.
It was a little bit funny because we had five children and their teacher and everyone else had one or two. I showed them my toy penguin and taught them how to say ‘penguin’ in English. They all brought photographs of their pets, they had horses and dogs, and they loved our cat Molly. The school had organized a few things to do like the Talent Show, a Disco and the Beetle Drive, and there was a free day when we got to take them out anywhere. We (my Mum, Dad and me) took them to The Hermitage and we all climbed down the rocks near the waterfall. I was really sad when they had to go at the end of the week, so we said goodbye with a kiss on each cheek. When they got home we sent some emails to swap photographs, and I hope I can go and visit them.
Eloise, age 9
For further information on Twinning contact one of the committee members:
Rait: Fiona Jurk (Chairperson) 01821 670228
Inchture: Christine Allan 686430,
Abernyte: Suki Stobbs 686444
Kinnaird: Jane Woodford 686371, Trefor Woodford 686371
Ballindean: Louise Klaassen 686711