Bienvenue à Québec

Bienvenue à Québec
Bienvenue à Québec

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Au Revoir Québec!

Well, it is certainly hard to believe that we have already spent two weeks in this wonderful city, immersed in the French language. It has been packed with activity and gone by very quickly. The last day of language classes for the students included a presentation ceremony where students received their certificates and said goodbye to teachers and classmates from other parts of the world. Everyone worked very hard in the classes.
Our last night together as a group, we went to the famous restaurant Le Cochon Dingue in the Basse-Ville at the feet of the Château Frontenac. The food and the company were fantastique and it was a great way to celebrate the end of the program and to say bon voyage back to the USA. It was nice to savour the evening actvities and lights in the old city for the last time. The students are all leaving Québec today. I'd like to say a grand merci to Sylvain and Marie-Claude and their team at Edu-Inter, our partner school, for all they have done this year to contribute to the program's success. They were great to work with, as always. Most of all, I am impressed with my students. Not only did their proficiency improve in French, but they all demonstrated increased confidence when speaking with native speakers in all contexts, including when they were out by themselves. They engaged with local culture and customs and learned about the rich history in this region of the country. I had the pleasure of getting to know a great group of students in a more intimate way and to share my country with them. Un grand merci à Arzell, Diana, Elizabeth, Hannah, Jessie, Jim, Kayla, Melissa et Samantha. A mes étudiants: Vous avez tous fait d'excellent progrès en français et dans vos appréciations de la culture francophone-canadienne. Je suis très fière de vous tous et c'était mon plaisir de vous avoir accompagnés à Québec. Vous avez représenté Cincinnati et les Etats-Unis avec honneur. Au plaisir de travailler avec vous encore à UCBA!
I have enjoyed my time in Québec, speaking French all day long and being Canadian again for two weeks. Each time I visit Québec, I continue to learn more about the history of this wonderful region and discover some hidden gems. I am leaving with some new ideas for my courses and my research. Here are some final photos of one of the most beautiful and historic cities in North America.

La Citadelle

Our last group excursion was to the historic Citadelle in Québec City. This is a very important landmark in Canadian history and one that continues to impact the Québécois today. The Citadelle was built by the British in 1820-50 and is the largest British fortification in North America. Although it has never been attacked, it is strategically placed on the top of Cap Diamant, ready to defend from any direction. The Citadelle is also an active military base as home to the Royal 22e Regiment, the only Francophone Regiment inthe Canadian Forces. This year is a very special and poignant time to visit La Citadelle as 2014 marks the 100th year anniversary of the First World War and also the formation of the Royal 22e Regiment, the first of Canada's regiments to be deployed to Europe to fight. Although suffering heavy casualties as other Allied countries did, Canada's proud victory at Vimy in 1917 marks the first time for Canada to stand on its own, separate from Britain, since Confederation in 1867. This battle stands as a symbol to the soldiers at La Citadelle and across Canada it represents the sacrifice and independence Canada has shown in battle. La Citadelle has an exhibition on Canada at war with particular focus on WWI and it was extremely well done and I was glad to be able to visit this important place in Canada's history this year in particular, to join in the centenary commemoration of the Great War. The view from the top of the Citadelle is magnifique!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

La Musée de la Civilisation

The Musée de la Civilisation is one of the largest and most extensive museum in Québec City.It houses several different exhibitions at once and also is part of a museum complex that includes 4 other museums around Vieux Québec. The main museum has a permanent exhibition on the history and modern times of Québec - including film clips, realia, documents and models. This is very informative when learning about the different epochs in Québec's evolution. We have a tendancy to concentrate on the history, the great battle, the loss of French to English, but it is important to remember that Québec has a modern history that is very noteworthy: the Quiet Revolution, October Crisis, Referendums, 1967 World Exposition and 1976 Winter Olympics in Montréal and of course who could forget the great Maurice "Rocket" Richard and the Montréal Canadiens, the first NHL Hockey team!
I was particularly interested in the temporary exhibition on Haiti. Haitian artists celebrate life, sexuality and death together through their culture of voudou, and their art is disarmingly frank as it seeks to tell the story of a people who have come so far, yet are still so challenged. I remember when I was in Haiti, the powerful culture of voudou and how beliefs and symbols transfer into daily life for the Haitians.
The big event at the museum this summer is the exhibition on the Masters of Olympus. Over 160 pieces from the Berlin State Museums’ vast Classical Antiquities collection, home to one of the world's most prestigious collections of Greco-Roman art, is on display for the first time in North America. I really enjoyed the explanations of which God represented the various parts of culture and human life. The exhibit was narrated by Homer and Hesiod, no less! This is not to miss!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

La Fête Nationale du Québec - Le St Jean-Baptiste

Yesterday was Québec's national holiday. Named for St. Jean-Baptiste, the celebration has its origins in the feast day of Saint John the Baptist or "Midsummer" and was a very popular event in the ancien régime of France which still holds traditional and identity value for the Québécois. This holiday is completely different from Canada Day, which is celebrated on July 1 each year. The Province of Québec makes a much bigger deal out of June 24 and Québec City hosts an outdoor concert on the Plains of Abraham, site of the defeat of the French by the English in 1759. Here are some pictures from the concert, the weather was great this year and the crowd even greater. Our students celebrated comme des Québécois! Be sure to read how they compare the Québec holiday with the American 4th of July in their blogs.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Promenades Littéraires

One of my guilty pleasures in Québec City is to go on a promenade littéraire - a literary walk through the streets of Vieux Québec where we visit authors' famous haunts, characters' houses and view the often overlooked corners of the city, as well as the grandiose vistas, through the eyes of Québec's literary icons. Unfortunately, I couldn't entice any students to go with me this year, but I was in heaven as we walked the streets of la Haute Ville in the footsteps of Anne Hébert, one of Québec's grandes dames of the novel. Having read and studied several of Hébert's novels when I was an undergraduate student at the University of Alberta and seen one of the film adaptations of her novel Kamouraska, this was a big thrill for me. The weather was wonderful and the guide was absolutely mesmorizing as she shared her passion for the literature with us. Walking through the winding cobblestone streets and stopping to read passages aloud under the very window that the character of Elisabeth D’Aulnières sat at the death bed of her husband at the beginning of the novel, was like stepping back in time for me. We walked along les remparts - the old walls of the city - for a spectacular view of the Laurentian mountains, the St. Lawrence River and the wonders of la ville de Québec! I now feel like picking up her books again and diving into them, with my mind still wandering the streets of Vieux Québec...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cinéma Le Clap - French films without subtitles!

A small group of us went to the Université Laval cinema which specializes in showing international and local films in their original versions. We saw the Québécois film La Petite Reine which was based loosely on the life of disgraced Québec cylist, Geneviève Jeanson in 2007 when she admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs (à la manière de Lance Armstrong). The film was difficult to watch at times as it was graphic and also when you realize how high level athletes are often not in control of their own lives. It was also a challenge for students who had never watched a French film without subtitles. Several of the characters had thick accents and, as in most films, slang and other regional expressions were often used. It was a good exercise in language comprehension! I enjoyed the film very much. This was the first film I had seen with actress Laurence Leboeuf who was excellent. Director Alexis Durand-Brault said that rather than showing the disgraced athlete in a completely negative light, he wanted to create a sympathetic character that the audience would feel for, despite the fact that she willingly took drugs since the age of 14.

Weekend Plans

After a week of hard work in language classes, everyone is ready for the weekend. Students have Saturday and Sunday free to choose their own activities and travel outside of Québec City if they wish. A group of students are traveling to Montréal, about a two hour drive from Québec and well worth the trip!
A couple of students took a tour up to Tadoussac to go whale watching. This part of Québec is extremely picturesque and having done this trip myself in 2012, I can confirm that they will see and learn much about the different whales that populate the St. Lawrence river as it empties into the Atlantic.
Students staying in town this weekend will have no shortage of activities to engage in and places to go. Le Vieux Québec comes alive on the weekends in June and July, especially when the weather is so nice as it has been these past few days. The festivities are getting set up for la Fête Nationale to be celebrated on Monday night and Tuesday, June 24 - St. Jean Baptiste Day.
Be sure to read their blogs on the right to follow their adventures this weekend!