Cognac Lower 6th Trip July 2018

It seems like only yesterday that I first visited Collège Elisée Mousnier in Cognac in the hope of setting up an exchange partnership between our two schools. That was more than three years ago and since then we have built a wonderful relationship which has truly flourished – not only between our two schools but between the pupils.

Being able to bring some of our Sixth Formers to Cognac this week I was able to witness the warmth of these relationships first hand. Some of these pupils took part in our first exchange 3 years ago and once again their partners and families were delighted to receive them. Those who had never visited before were nonetheless warmly welcomed by other pupils from the Lycée Jean Monnet – another school in the area that we now have strong links with due to Mrs Rodríguez’s World In Wiltshire project.

We had an action-packed few days thanks to the hospitality of Madame Fréchard, Madame Mandin and Madame Belleteau from the Lycée Jean Monnet as well as Madame Sauquet from the Collège Elisée Mousier and all the wonderful pupils. I am really grateful to them for the lengths they went to to make our stay so enjoyable. 

It was clear that our pupils had a wonderful time:

Katherine Caldwell L6 A Level 

“Coming back to Cognac after having been on the first exchange 3 years ago was a great experience and despite it being a short stay we managed to cram a week’s worth of activities into 3 and a half days! Staying with our partners again was unsurprisingly challenging but equally rewarding and even after only a few days has been enough to greatly benefit how we interact in a different language without someone there to help out when it inevitably goes a bit wrong! However, we have had a fantastic time putting into practice social skills when meeting the headmaster of our partner school and when chatting daily with the other teachers from France and thankfully the weather has been wonderful allowing a beautiful cycle ride alongside the coast. A brilliant and beneficial few days here again!”

Julian Scriba L6 A Level

“I enjoyed the first day, at Hennessy we learned about the region, it’s trade and it’s culture, the smell in the storage room with the barrels was unbelievable.”

Hattie Dunn L6 A Level

“I think this trip to cognac was so rewarding as although we were only there for 3 days we interacted more with our partners. I feel my French has improved and I have gained more confidence. I have made friends for life and hope to visit again in the future. For me the best part was being at the beach because we were able to spend quality time with our partners and get to know them on a different level. I enjoyed every minute and loved spending a few days in such a beautiful town that was so beneficial for my french.

Also I was able to explain things in french rather than resort to the English equivalent – it was hard at first but it was so rewarding and I am so glad that we were able to return to a place that holds so many memories – we reflected on the old ones but also made a bucket load of new memories that i will remember for the rest of my life.”

Victor de Ridder L6 IB1 

“We had three fantastic days in Cognac with amazing weather. We also had lots of fun and we socialized well with our French partners. As it was my first time in Cognac I would say it is a lovely town in the province of La Charente with very nice houses. I also loved visiting Hennessy as we learned a lot, such as how the Cognac is made. The other nice activity that we did was a lovely bike ride along the coast between Saint Palais sur Mer and La Palmyre. I would not hesitate to come again to Bordeaux and Cognac to visit our french host families and my partner.”

Lucie Brinker L6 IB1 

“Although the trip was only a short one, it was extremely beneficial. I now don’t only know everything about French cheese and food typical of the region, I can also say that I’ve eaten my entire body weight and some food of which I still don’t know what it actually was but I don’t think I want to either. I can definitely say that I feel a lot more confident in speaking now and I believe to have developed so much during these few days. Having countless picnics and burning in the sun was definitely beneficial to our language skills, too. C’est la vie!I was extremely fortunate with my French partner. Not just because she is immensely kind and continuously spoke French to me, but also because I was able to continue a friendship that had already started in Y10.”

I felt extremely proud of all of our pupils during our short stay in France this week. They really threw themselves into everything and took all opportunities to use the French language and develop their knowledge. They were always polite and gracious. I expected nothing less of these pupils, of course, but to hear others comment on their excellent behaviour and attitude was wonderful. Bravo les élèves!

When Mrs Rodríguez and I first dreamed of setting up a French Exchange at Warminster School, what I witnessed this week was exactly what we had hoped for: long lasting, international friendships for our pupils. It really was heart-warming to see that this dream has become a reality.

Mrs Rogers, Head of MFL