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The whole group at Mont Saint-Michel; Students admired l'Arc de Triomphe; On a free morning in Paris, a group visited the Lindt store!

French trip opens the world and opens minds

Eighteen Gregory School French students ventured far beyond Tucson for spring break, traveling to France for a 10-day tour through Normandy, Brittany, the Loire Valley, and Paris. Led by French teacher Mme Amy Clashman, the students ranged from grades 8 - 12 and from French I to fluent heritage and immersion speakers.

“Travel always opens up the world and opens the mind. In addition to that, the students were able to practice a foreign language,” Mme Clashman said. “In the classroom, it can be almost like we’re playing a game, but when you travel, you see that the language is real and has context.”

“Having the opportunity to go on the trip was such an amazing experience,” Chris Corral ‘23 said. “It was my first time out of the country and it was everything I imagined and more. From the beautiful castles like Château de Chenonceau to walking around Paris and its various areas, it was awesome to explore.” 

Students’ time was split between whole-group activities such as visits to the Normandy Beaches, the ramparts of Saint-Malo, gothic cathedrals, châteaus, l’Opera Garnier, and an evening boat ride in Paris, and free time to explore on their own in small groups, giving them the opportunity to speak with shopkeepers and visit sites of particular interest.

 “Our trip to France was magnifique! We had a chance to see wonderful historical sites, develop deeper connections with our peers, and make new friends. We laughed a lot, improved our French, and enjoyed fresh baguettes!” Lily Messing ‘24 said.

Two highlights of the trip included an all-group visit with M Robert Souty in Lisieux, Normandy (pictured) and a visit to a middle and high school in Tours. M Souty witnessed D Day as a young teen and shared the story of how his family kept a stranded American pilot, Rudolf Augarten, hidden at their farm and how the two had remained connected for life. In Tours, every student visited a school, getting the opportunity to attend morning classes and interact with French middle and high school students and their teachers.

While Mme Clashman and chaperones Mr. Brad Vanek and Ms. Alicia Saposnik were initially apprehensive about the strikes happening in France, the group was affected very little: A morning’s museum plans on the Left Bank had to be canceled and replaced with a morning of free choice in a different area of Paris, but as one student said, “That just leaves something to do next time!”

The French trip was truly life changing. It exposed me to a new culture by creating an immersive experience through food and language. Being in a small setting allowed us to get to know each other.”
- Sydney Sundt '25

Mme Clashman added that the benefits of traveling abroad don’t end when the trip does. “Going abroad means that you come home and see your own culture and your own language in a new light.”

Other planned Gregory School travel abroad experiences include this summer’s trips to Costa Rica, led by Mr. Stephen Krohn, and Italy, led by Latin teachers Mr. Jim Carlson and Mr. Jeff Clashman, and a trip to Spain next academic year, led by Sra. Lydia Noriega.

"I love teaching at The Gregory School because it allows so much room for creativity. I can tune into how students learn best and adjust my curriculum to that. We provide French classes at many different levels, and classes are small, so we can really respond to students' needs. We also have space in our schedule to work with other French speakers in the Tucson community and beyond. It makes for a fun and creative environment."

Amy Clashman, M.A.

Amy Clashman holds an M.A. and a B.A. in French from the University of Arizona. She was appointed to The Gregory School Faculty in 1988.