SPRINGFIELD , Ohio – For 13 Wittenberg University students, two professors and one alumna, summer will forever be synonymous with French, fairy tales, cathedrals and castles thanks to a new study program in Paris.
Led by Amy Livingstone, associate professor of history and department chair, and Leanne Wierenga, associate professor of languages, the inaugural month-long summer study in Paris program immersed participants in French culture, history and language from June 5- 29. The International Education of Students (IES) Center facilitated the study-abroad opportunity for the group, which included four hours of classroom instruction Monday through Friday and daily excursions to locations related to the subjects being discussed.
An expert in medieval Europe, Livingstone taught the course Cathedrals and Castles, while Wierenga, an expert in French literature, taught French Fairy Tales.
“Students were as excited as I was about the subject,” Livingstone said. “It was wonderful to teach medieval history surrounded by all the medieval monuments, which were so accessible to the students. As a result, the students were able to apply immediately what they learned in class.”
Marvin Cable of Easton, Conn., who graduated in May, took full advantage of the professors’ expertise and the experience during the trip.
“If being in Paris weren’t cool enough, we got to learn about it, too,” Cable said. “Not every college student has had two Ph.D.s leading him or her up and down the Seine River.”
In addition to traveling the Seine and visiting the famed Notre Dame Cathedral and its archeological crypt, the group also toured the Cluny Museum, which houses an extensive collection of medieval art and artifacts, the Orsay Museum, home to Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works of art, the world-renowned Louvre Museum, Eiffel Tower, the palace of Versailles and the 12 th century Gothic-inspired St. Denis Cathedral, among other historic sites. The summer program also included a daytrip to Chartres Cathedral and a three-day excursion to the Loire Valley, home to dozens of medieval castles and the renowned 9 th century monastery of St. Benoit, which is still in operation today. The group also toured the abbey of Fontevraud and two chateaus.
“Students could actually see the tension that existed in the 13 th century between the church and the community based on the proximity of the Chartres Cathedral and the town it calls home,” Livingstone said.
“Students also came away with a completely new understanding of the French people and their culture,” Wierenga added.
Although the program took two years to develop, Wierenga and Livingstone plan to accompany students to Paris again in 2007. Those making the trip this year along with Cable and Melinda Scott, class of 2001, from London, Ohio, included: Robert Bhoolai of Cincinnati, Ohio, Amy Grau of Carmel, Ind., Benjamin Kreucher of Orchard Lake, Mich., Alicia Luff of Elkton Md., Marci Murphy of Wilmington, Ohio, Jessica Savage of Naperville, Ill., Stefani Shelley of Delaware, Ohio, and Robert Shields of Newtown Square, Pa., all class of 2006; Shannon Kesl of Springfield, Ohio, Alison Levato of Carol Stream, Ill., and Kathleen Nichols of Toledo, Ohio, all class of 2007; and Greg Harris of Eldorado, Ohio, class of 2008.
“ I loved seeing the culture and the differences from our culture,” Harris said. “I was just amazed by everything. It was the best experience I have had, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
- Karen Gerboth '93