Time Capsule Letter
We can’t believe it has already been so long since our Guadeloupe trip came to a close! I can still remember waking up to the ocean view at Domaine St Gerard, munching on delicious tropical fruits at “le petit dejeuner” and soaking up the sun under palm trees at beaches all around Guadeloupe.
It feels like yesterday we were romping around on aerial bridges at the zoo, exploring new waterfalls, planting in the garden with Jose and Sylvia, chowing down on bananas and Cassava cakes on our agro-tourism visits, preparing local Accra’s with Juliette and relaxing in rainbow hammocks together. You’re probably back in school, but we wanted you to know that here in Guadeloupe we are still thinking of you and the memories we made this summer together.
Our time spent together here truly did make an impact in the local community. You should all know you left Goyave a better place than when you came. The local river has drastically been cleared of trash, while L’ecole de Lezarde’s students practice their “my name is” and other favorite English phrases. Domaine St Gerard continues to be an abundant garden for school children from all over Goyave to visit. The aloe vera plants we planted and garden pathways we built will stand longer after our time here!
Your impact is lasting and is not just a memory, but has made a tangible impact on the environment and community. And more importantly, the knowledge YOU gained on this trip we hope will serve you and the communities you go on to be in for the rest of your life! We now know how harmful plastic is to the environment, and some ways to reduce and reuse it in order to lessen our impact on the environment, as well as ways to plant and incorporate medicinal plants into our lives.
Another thing I can’t forget is how much fun we had together here! You guys were a huge part of making this trip so enjoyable by being a really close knit group that looked out for each other and supported each other through thick and thin. We experienced Guadeloupean culture by learning to dance Gwoka & to make traditionally churned passion fruit coconut ice cream. We also got to visit a local craft market and buy our goodies to take home with us. We also got to explore the bottom of the ocean and see endangered marine life such as turtles through our snorkel masks.
We worked really hard and also had a blast together. Whether it was playing games on home base such as Zip, Zap, Boing, enjoying karaoke nights with our community members, figuring out riddles on the bus, learning french during mealtimes and on service sights or exploring new places together- it was that much fun because we got to share it with all you guys — the FIRST 2019 GLA Guadeloupe group!
Remember our Group’s OMG – “One Meaningful Goal” – that we created at the end of the session? We pledged to utilize the 5 pillars to help those in need, be more aware of who those people are in your communities at home and how you can serve them by applying what you learned on the program. We would love to know how that is going! Have there been any shifts in your beliefs, or changes in your home and community?
Remember to share your personal goals with GLA too, they’d love to see how you are BEING the CHANGE back home! And always tag @glateens on that IG!
Thanks for helping to make these special memories in an amazing place and “bonne chance” with all your OMG projects!
Charlotte and the Guadeloupe team
This blog is for the Guadeloupe split session starting June 15, 2019, which includes both the 14-day and the 21-day student group.
Saturday June 15, 2019
Bienvenue a Guadeloupe!
We are so excited to have welcomed our students within country! After a scoop from the airport, we came back to the home base to drop luggage, freshen up, and enjoy some delicious local fruit juice and French pastries.
Students met staff at the base house, explored the garden, and participated in a few icebreakers and name games before being joined by a group of local Guadeloupean high school students for some afternoon French immersion.
After some hammock hangouts and time to decompress, students enjoyed their first meal in Guadeloupe- a special welcome dinner prepared by our devoted talented and local Chef Linda.
After dinner, students will receive an orientation of the base house and discuss community guidelines and GLA policies for the duration of the program.
Students are bubbly and enthusiastic about their arrival and asking lots of questions about activities they will be participating in, foods they will be trying, and when they will have the chance to practice their French!
We are looking forward to our journey together and will keep you updated!
A bientot 🙂
-Written by Charlotte Prud’Homme (International Director)
Sunday June 16, 2019
Today was an action packed first full day. The students started off the morning with some ice breakers and games at 7 am for breakfast alongside some fresh fruit juice, scrambled eggs and sausage, local ham, fruit, bread and other delicious local products. They then worked with Charlotte to complete their swim tests where each individual students abilities in the water were evaluated and they practiced treading water before heading out to the sea for the first time. Charlotte also went through individual health check-ins with each student to check up on everyone’s tummy’s, brains and hearts after their first night in Guadeloupe. Ryan completed French evaluations with students who were then placed into their language learning level of beginner, intermediate or advanced to maximize class learning time in small groups that reflect ability and comfort level en Francais.
Students then made their own skits about the Code of Conduct to review safety and community guidelines before their first excursion outside the base house. After some laughs and serious discussions we received a brief history of Guadeloupe lesson with our Local Director Therese. Guadeloupe’s long and complex history of multiple colonizers makes for interesting history lessons and looks into the past. Therese also showed students on the map where they would be travelling today to the sea.
After lunch of a local shrimp pasta dish with some fresh bread and veggies we went out to Bas Du Fort where students got to spend the rest of the day swimming in the sea near a local hotel resort. Shells were found, ice cream was eaten, soccer was played, human pyramids made, and much more..
Looking forward to another excursion tomorrow!
A bientot 🙂
Monday June 17, 2019
Bon Matin et s”il vous plait excuse mon delay! Hier soir nous avons celebre l’anniversaire de Mr. Danica, se lui qui vie ici a la basse. *sorry for the delay, last night we celebrated the birthday of Mr. Danica who’s home we’re staying at while at Domingue St. Gerard base house.
Yesterday was an action packed day. The students dove into multiple elements of GLA’s five leadership pillars while engaging in community service, adventure, french class, and arts and crafts projects.
Before breakfast students gathered for Zip, Zap, Zoom, Boing to get our tired gears turning. (Ask your child to teach you this game for 4+ people when they’re back home!). After breakfast of cheesy egg scramble, sausages, fresh brioche, cereal and granola, local fruit jams, fruit juices, and oats students circled up for their first french class. Unlike during high school french class, students were moving, speaking, singing, dancing, and speaking French the full two hour time frame.
Some of the activities included talent Olympics, Map of the World, Ball Toss for Animals and Numbers and singing some French songs. Students wrapped up class with a toast of mango banana smoothies and some of us on team Ghost (you can ask your student what this is) also had a gouter (snack) of some fresh prunes.
From the base house deck we watched sugar cane being harvested in the back fields, before jumping into our morning community service gardening at the home base. We planted succulents and learned about tropical plants and the history of the land here at Domaine St. Gerard. We also harvested and tried native Guadeloupean sour cherries and breadfruit, and found a leaf cutter ant nest busy at work building their nest.
After a refreshing swim to cool off and a nourishing lunch students completed their first homework assignment for French class, a 5-10 presentation (en Francais et en Anglais!) about their topic of choice regarding Guadeloupe. Topics included the history of slavery, explorer and oceanographer Jaques Cartier, native fruits of Guadleoupe, and more. We then departed for les Chutes du Carbet where we learned about some history of the native peoples who lived there when it was discovered by Christopher Columbus. Students really enjoyed this hike and came back very ready for dinner.
After students presented their projects and cleaned up, we had dinner and celebrated Mr. Danika’s birthday with a handmade birthday card signed by everyone and a group chorus of Joyeux Anniversaire (happy birthday) and “dit nous quele age a tous” (tell us how old you are) and some coconut cream cake. After dinner students had the option to lounge in the hammocks and watch a French movie under the stars.
I am thrilled at the amount of growth, communication, bravery and leadership already present among the group and look forward to getting to work with this group very much.
Tuesday June 18, 2019
Another day of paradise began with a fueling breakfast and service work around owner José’s property. This was followed by French classes taught by GLA counselor Ryan Boeding.
After a nutritious lunch, we headed over to the local zoo where we saw a variety of fascinating creatures including jaguars, alligators, and playful monkeys.
After seeing various species at the zoo, the group traveled to a waterfall about 20 minutes away. Although the water was freezing, everyone still managed to have loads of fun! Adventurous folks like Maddie and Martin were the first to enter the water. Everyone got beautiful pictures to upload to social media; some of which you can see below. We swam and splashed around until the very last minute!
The group returned to home base and enjoyed a wonderful dinner consisting of pork, breadfruit with cheese, beets, and tomatoes. A delicious coconut cake was served for dessert!
The leaders of the day, Saarah and JP, gave the first shoutout of the trip to Maddie! Her consistent positivity and bright smile really contributes to the overall positive attitude of the group!
Later in the night, we worked on a letter to ourselves that we will receive at the end of the program. The letter is based around the GLA leadership pillars. Inside the letter are our expectations for ourselves, how we plan to take on a form of leadership, and how we will ensure the GLA pillars are incorporated into our lives during the program.
Directly after completing the letters, the group worked on the leadership curriculum with Charlotte and Ryan.
-Written by JP and Saarah
Wednesday June 19, 2019
This morning we started off with a delicious breakfast of beans, fresh fruit, and a variety of pastries. After fueling up, we began our french lesson. The beginner group learned directions and how to ask more advanced questions, while the intermediate and advanced groups worked on verb conjugations. The three groups then played get-to-know-you games in French.
We then helped Mr. Danika paint signs for his in-house photography business. We decorated a new sign with flowers and sharpened up the lettering on an old sign. (Martin would like to note that he worked extra hard on this task). During the painting, Angelica, Livia, and Thalia helped Charlotte make a fresh mango smoothie for all to enjoy. Some students also helped Charlotte pick succulents and learned about the growth of aloe vera, a plant helpful in soothing all our sunburns.
After a hearty lunch of a fish rice and quinoa salad, we toured La Kassaverie and learned how a manioc plant is turned into flour. We then tried delicious chocolate and coconut kassave, and had the opportunity to purchase goods from the kassaverie. We also reunited with our new local Guadeloupian friends, and got to practice our french in casual conversation. We then conducted interviews with the local Guadeloupians (en français!) about the qualities of a leader.
After the Kassaverie we stopped at “Carrefour” (the french version of a Target) to stock up on snacks and other items. Dinner was followed by a heavy but short rainstorm, a game of cards, and a good nights sleep.
Thursday June 20, 2019
After a relaxing petite déjeuner (breakfast) of fresh pineapple, passion fruit, and chocolate croissants, the ten of us headed out to our daily french lessons. Our group reviewed verb conjugations and then worked on reflexive verbs with the others. We then learned and practiced French songs to compete in the karaoke competition tomorrow night. After hearing groups practice, it’s apparent the competition will go down in history. Featured songs include: Papaoutai, Frères Jacques, and Sur La Route.
Then, we split up into groups to help tend to Josè and Sylvia’s, our hosts, estate. A few of us worked on rebuilding a wooden walkway for their lush tropical garden, which included measuring, cutting, drilling, and hammering down boards. Other groups finished repainting a large wooden sign for the property and then plant succulents for the garden.
A few hours later, we enjoyed a delicious lunch and prepared our bags for our trip to the banana plantation. At the plantation, we were taught all the interesting uses for bananas (ask us when you see us), and found out some really fascinating information about the natural balance of the ecosystem in the banana fields.
It was a fun-filled day and we’re all eagerly awaiting the scrumptious dinner provided by the wonderful staff at Domaine St Gerard while we relax in the many hammocks hanging just in sight of the bright blue Caribbean waters. À tout à l’heure!
Written by: Delara and Livia
Friday June 21, 2019
Bienvenue! Aujourd’hui, nous sommes allés à l’école… à parler aux étudiants guadeloupéens en anglais. Après ça, nous sommes allés à la plage qui était cinquante minutes du notre « base de maison ». Maintenant, nous allons traduire… Welcome! Today, we went to school… to speak with Guadeloupian students in English. Afterwards, we went to the beach which was approximately fifty minutes away from home base.
At the school, we engaged the students in several fun activities and gave them a chance to show off their English speaking skills. They responded well to both questions about themselves and the people and places around them. To begin the day at the school, they asked us questions about our hometowns and the types of activities we enjoy. Overall, all of us, students included, learned about communication and how we perform as leaders.
After visiting the school, we ate a local café and enjoyed eating gelato with our local friends. As a surprise, Thérèse booked us a kayaking expedition. Once in the water, the boys took off racing to the next beach while the girls went at their own pace. We reached the beach after battling the wind and the waves. We took plenty of group photos and had a great time taking in the shining sun and the teal blue waters. We then took off, back to the main beach.
Market time! While being tight on time, we still managed to visit the market. We spent forty minutes wandering around and seeing all of the different shops.
Lastly, after a long day and an amazing dinner, we had a tight karaoke competition. Everyone was dancing enthusiastically and trying their best to win. Meanwhile, the guys were waiting anxiously for their turn to end. There was not a clear winner.
– écrire par Martin et Meghan
Saturday June 22, 2019
The start of the second week of our time in Guadeloupe began with a laid-back day. Following breakfast, we helped Chef Juliette cook fish balls that were served alongside the buffet Chef Linda cooked for lunch.
After lunch, we we’re given a lot of free time which many of us used to catch up on rest as many aren’t used to getting up at 6:30 everyday. The next activity began at 3:00 with Chef Linda. Despite the ice war, we helped Linda finish some delicious coconut ice cream In a fairly short amount of time.
Next, an hour and half was allocated to us for free time and for finishing our mid-program evaluation based on our experience with the trip thus far. Dinner occurred at the usual 6:50-7:00 time and it was followed by an exciting drum presentation by Linda’s husband Phillip. Phillip then allowed a few pioneers to come up and take a shot at the drums. The participants included Megan, Madi, and a half-asleep Martin, the latter prompting Charlotte to insist that we all head straight to bed.
By J.P. and Madi
Sunday June 23, 2019
Today we had a morning of GLA leadership curriculum. We played games and had a group discourse about social justice issues currently prevalent in today’s society. After a delicious breakfast of Nutella and crepes, we played a game called celebrities. After the humorous game, we began an activity that focused on our development as leaders. We were supposed to have a twenty minute conversation in response to the prompt: “How has being in Guadeloupe, changed your perspective of the country?”
However, being the young, independent, and passionate people that we are, the nine of us ended up having an hour and a half discussion about racism, gun violence prevention, poverty and the deep rooted and sometimes flawed nationalism in the United States. After lunch, we went to visit the Musee ACTe. Through audio guides, artifacts, videos, and writing, we learned about the history of slavery in Guadeloupe and other Caribbean islands. Guadeloupe faced a long battle against slavery; after having it abolished it was then reinstated. The museum also briefly covered racial injustices in other countries around the world.
-écrit par Talia et Saarah
Monday June 24, 2019
The next day in sunny Guadeloupe began with a refreshing breakfast and an 8am bus ride through the mountains. This brought us to the picturesque beach “Plage de la Mal Endure.”
Following our arrival, we met up with our local snorkel guides, Raphael and Florent. We grabbed our flippers and wet suits, and then we headed out to the boat. A fascinating snorkeling experience ensued which involved the sightings of underwater statues, turtles, jellyfish, and a plethora of colorful fish.
Shortly after, we each got a delicious baguette sandwich and re-applied sunscreen before jumping back into the water to swim and hang out on the black sand beach. Every single one of us ended the day with wetsuit tan lines and sunny faces. The long day at the beach caused us all to drop like flies before 8:30pm, despite our best efforts to stay awake and finish watching a French film.
JP and Livia
Tuesday June 25, 2019
We started off the morning with a breakfast of fruit, croissants, and Nutella (though many people only had Nutella). We then began our French class, where we played “deux vérités et un mensonge” -two truths and a lie. Students stated 3 facts about themselves (one fake) -others had to guess which one was false.
After French, we began our community service for the day -a mile long hike to do a trash pickup by a river. On the way, we ran into a stray dog we named Bonnie/Nunus/Noodle. After a quick petting session, we continued on our way to the cleanup site. We were all very sad about leaving the dog, but there was no need to be! She followed us all the way to the river, and then back to our home base after we finished cleaning trash. The hike there and back was a long and tiring one, but none of us minded -we were proud to have helped out the community, and discussing ways to improve the environment helped to take our mind off the heat.
Lunch was followed by a trip to the mall where we bought souvenirs, clothing, and restocked on our candy supply. We then returned home to play a quick game of “guess whose parents” and dinner. After, we watched the leadership videos we had created with local guadeloupians, and discussed the difference between our definitions of leadership.
“A true leader is like the banks of a river, not always appreciated, but always needed.” -Madi H.
Written by Zara G and Meghan K
Wednesday June 26, 2019
We started the day with some delicious nutella crepes and an abundance of fruit. After breakfast we headed towards a sugar cane plantation for a tour. Sugar cane is very historically and culturally significant in Guadeloupe, and there were parts of the plantation that were over 250 years old. We were able to take a tour of their distillery while learning about the science of how sugar cane rum is made. They start off with the tractor that brings in 3 types of sugar cane. The first is the thickest but the least sweet, the middle one is slightly sweeter, and the thinnest one that is the sweetest. The sugar cane is put into the 150 year old machine that separates the fibers from the sugar itself. The fibers are used to produce their own electricity so the distillery is self sustained. The sugar cane juice is placed into a big barrel where it is mixed in with alcohol. We were able to taste the raw sugar cane juice (before it was mixed with alcohol of course!!)
After the sugar cane tour, we came back to home base for lunch. We enjoyed some pasta and vegetables. Right after lunch, we departed for a nice beach in Port-Louis. We spent a few hours at the beautiful beach tanning and playing in the clear, turquoise waters.
After a relaxing evening, we ate dinner and had the rest of the night to pack our things.
Thursday June 27, 2019
Yesterday, our last full day together, was jam-packed with leadership curriculum, festivities and local cultural exposure. We started the day by pressing flowers from the garden at home base, followed by a presentation on the native fruits of Guadeloupe created by three advanced students: Talia, Meghan, and Angelica.
After lunch, we worked on an arts-and-crafts project with Henola, a local Guadeloupean teen who has been joining us on our outings for the past week and a half. Using rolled up newspaper, glue, and cardboard, we created miniature baskets.
Following that, we were joined by a local dancer and two drummers. They showed us the ins-and-outs of their goatskin drums and taught us the seven basic rhythms of traditional Guadeloupean music. As a group, we learned five steps of Gwoka dancing.
After the musicians left, we sat in a circle and discussed the connotations of the phrase “knowledge is power”. When we finished with our capstone, we worked with a local carpenter to build a compost bin for the home base to be used by the next group of GLA students and the local community in the future.
As a celebratory farewell surprise, our local hosts and Henola planned a special dinner and dance for the nine of us. The girls dressed up in their nicest clothes while helping the boys adorn themselves in flamboyant costumes. After dinner and a surprise visit from a pair of local siblings we’ve been spending time with, we danced our hearts out under some disco lights to music.
Saturday June 29, 2019
First and foremost, let me apologize for the lack of blog posts in the past two days. In all honesty, we have just been having too much fun together to remember.
Let me give you a quick recap:
On Friday, June 28, we ate a delicious breakfast of tropical fruits and chocolate croissants. Then, we completed our final program evaluations and did some arts and crafts with pressed flowers. Therese led us through a recap of the past two weeks before we headed to lunch. This was our last meal together and yet, true to our MO, we laughed the entire time. However, as soon as the dishes had been put away and the luggage brought downstairs, tears began to slide down our faces. Two weeks together in a place none of us had ever been to before had brought us closer than any of us could have imagined. Our good byes lasted as long as they possibly could before we were told that the bus had arrived to take 7 of us to the airport. The rest of the day was quiet, the four of us that were left, took naps, looked through pictures and packed up our own bags for the next day.
On Saturday, June 29, at 7 in the morning, we got into a van with all of our luggage and were driven to a boat. This boat took us to Terres Basses in Les Saintes. However, the boat ride was in no way smooth sails. Because of how fast the boat was going, every tiny wave that we hit, and there were a lot of tiny waves, felt like a drop from the top of the highest roller coaster. Our trick to not getting sick? Sleep! After the 45 minute boat ride, we arrived at the island where we will be staying for the next week. We went to a market and found a variety of foods and served our lunch. Then we played a card game, read books, and colored before ordering a pizza dinner and heading off to bed.
– Écrit par Talia
Yet again we apologize for any worrying that our delayed blog postings may have caused you. But we are, after all, on island time. Two days ago, on June 30th, we spent our first full day in Terre de Bas. We started the morning with left over pizza and virgin piña colodas. Then after taking a little too long to get ready, we took a stroll down to the beach. We got lunch at a small local restaurant and chowed down on some hard boiled eggs, salad, chicken and fries. We returned to the beach and had French class with Thérèse. For dinner, we had some yummy soup paired beautifully with some fromage and baguette.
Yesterday, we awoke to the cry of a rooster who seemed to think we wanted to wake up at 6 am. Soon after, our croissants were delivered, fresh and warm, from the island’s boulangerie. After putting on our “best clothes”, we walked down to the beach to meet the mayor of Terre de Bas. We introduced ourselves and briefly discussed the weekly agenda. We needed to figure out the needs of the community before committing to any of our project ideas. There was an experiential learning takeaway from meeting with the mayor: When working in a new place, we need not begin a project without knowing the needs of the community. As people from other countries, we do not live the locals’ lives and therefore, are not familiar with the things they experience throughout the year.
After our meeting, we went to L’OMCSL and played games with the local children, such as “sleeping lions”, “duck, duck, gray duck” (aka duck, duck, goose depending on where you’re from), and “night at the museum”. The kids had so much energy and were happy to put up with the time consuming translations and broken French. For lunch, we had delicious potato-cheese-veggie tartes and kebabs. Then in the afternoon we went on a guided hike from the village, where we are staying, to the middle of the island. We learned a lot about the native plants and their medicinal properties. Upon returning from the hike, it was already sundown. However, the children from earlier in the day still managed to find us and we played even more games with them well past sunset.
Today, we ate even more butter-lathered croissants and then headed to the city hall where we were given our “work” for the day: start the process of painting over the curbs of the town square. We worked diligently for two hours, painting as fast and as precisely as possible. We discussed how the work was tedious and, with the help of some of the technological innovations from the United States, could have taken drastically less human power. While this could reduce physical work, we began questioning whether this would lead to more solutions or problems. A possible concern of mechanizing this process is the value in the cultural expression and historical importance of manual labor.
After reflecting on our experience, we headed home for a quick breather before embarking on a tour of the island led by a very kind and well informed local. We drove to the other small town on Terre de Bas and were given a brief yet expansive history lesson about the island. After lunch, we all took a nap before going to see a French movie at the OMCSL.