Our last 2 days in France
Catacombs – Life Happens
Eiffel Tower – Life Celebrated
Normandy – Life Marginalized, Exterminated, Fought For, Liberated
Catacombs: Life Happens
Death is a part of life. Not one we really like to talk about most of the time. As believers we have the hope of eternal life. We know with assurance we will be reunited with our Creator and our loved ones in the faith. But there is that part that is hard for us all, when a loved one takes a last breath and all that is left is the earthly shell. At one time, there were so many people living in Paris and the cemeteries were overcrowded and the ability to bury the remains became very difficul. It was so difficult, in fact, disease began to become a serious issue. Thus, the catacombs, exhuming bodies and taking the remains and burying them (stacking them) in the hallways of the quarry’s below the surface. Very creatively I might add. A very interesting, creepy, waaaaay too deep under the streets and water and sewer system of Paris, I might add! For my liking… I’m just sayin’!
Eiffel Tower: Life Celebrated
Paris, France. The Eiffel Tower was built by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, which was to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the French Revolution. Its construction in 2 years, 2 months and 5 days was a veritable technical and architectural achievement. (Quoted from https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/tour-eiffel)
The tower wasn’t supposed to stay, it was a temporary structure, in fact the majority of the population thought it was a huge obstruction … but it is now ‘Paris’. I mean, when you hear Paris what do you think? Right? The Eiffel Tower!
The tower wasn’t supposed to be a permanent structure and in fact the majority of the population thought it was ugly and needed to be removed after the exposition. However, when you hear the word ‘Paris’ what do you usually think about first? Right? The Eiffel Tower!
Normandy – Life Marginalized, Life Exterminated, Life Fought For, Life Liberated
War is a horrible thing. I remember on one of the 11th grade trips, we had an office of the Air Force come and share with the students about being a believer in the military. The struggles he faced and how his faith made the difference. One thing he said really impacted all of us. “Going to war is the last thing anyone in the military wants to do. In fact, we will try to do everything we can, to keep from taking our men and women into war. But sometimes when you have done everything you can, you must stand up for the freedom and rights of other human beings.
We went to the Omaha Beach, The American Cemetery in Normandy and Ponte du Hoc. It is hard to put into words when you are walking down this beautiful path and you turn left and you get sight of the hundreds of white crosses, meticulously placed row after row. Men that never came home. Some markers had names, rank and home state. Other markers said, “Here Rests In Honored Glory A COMRADE IN ARMS Known But To God”.
Hearing the students talk about the trip and sharing during this evening’s debrief, I asked them to write me a paragraph or two on their thoughts of the past few days!
From your Students:
- Paris France is known as the city of love. After visiting the Eiffel Tower, and going on an evening river cruise not only brought those words to life, but also reminded me that we need to love others as well. In John 15:12, God commands us to “Love each other as I have loved you.” Looking around at my classmates talking and laughing together, and seeing the people on the river banks simply hanging out and enjoying each other’s company, demonstrates how Paris is not only a city of love between couples, but a city of love to friends and strangers alike! ~ Arianna M.
- It has truly been a blessing and a great opportunity for me to go on a trip to London, Paris, and Amsterdam with a group of friends from my high school senior class. Getting the opportunity to take a lift to the top of the Eiffel Tower is an experience I will never forget. Looking over the entire city of Paris was incredible. It was amazing to me personally, because I never thought that I would see myself on top of the Eiffel Tower ever in my life. Also, standing on the beach where D-day occurred was an experience that I can never forget. I was standing on the beach where so many soldiers died risking their lives to prevent the conquest of the Nazis in Europe. The story of how courageous the soldiers were fighting on the beach for their country was an inspiration to all people and I am happy I was able to experience it. ~ Ethan W.
- My favorite part about being in Paris has to be Normandy and just being able to see what I thought I would never get to see. In class we always studied about WWII invasion of Normandy beach. It was crazy to be able to be on the same beach as the Germans and American troops and also being able to explore the bunkers. And also just understanding the sacrifices, over 9,000 Americans gave their lives to give us the freedom we have to live today. ~ Robert H.
- I have honestly really enjoyed our time in France so far. Over the course of the past few days I’ve been immersed in a different culture and have been able to experience a lot of different places and people. My favorite places we’ve been to have been the Eiffel Tower and Normandy. Being up at the top of the Eiffel Tower was breathtaking and it truly made me thankful for God blessing me to be able to be there. It also made me be able to fall further in love with the city as I was able to explore it from both down below and from a bird’s eye perspective. Normandy though was most memorable to me, as I had never thought I would have been able to actually see it in person. It was so meaningful to be able to walk alongside the thousands of graves belonging to the brave men who sacrificed their lives for the sake of our country. And I hope to never forget what they have done for us, and their courage and bravery. ~ Megan M.
- Going to Paris has always been a huge pipe dream of mine. I never actually thought it would come to fruition but I am so glad that it did. When I came over on the train from England and saw the French countryside it almost brought me to tears because it was something straight out of my dreams. Being able to come here and share this experience with friends makes it all the better. ~ Johnny G.
- These past couple of days in France have truly been a memorable experience. Being able to not only revisit landmarks like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower but to do so with friends and explore new things at our own leisure was really exciting. One of my favorite parts of the trip was being able to walk Normandy Beach and be present in a battlefield that drastically changed the course of history. It was incredible to see the respect and beauty preserved at the cemetery of our war heroes. ~ Sarah S.
- I really enjoyed the last couple of days and going to Normandy and visiting the monuments and the American memorials. It was all so peaceful and so relaxing to just walk around and see what happened there. Also it was very cool to see the huge holes where some missiles were shot on the beach and cliffs of Normandy where the army climbed up while getting shot at and still pursuing their goal of getting up the cliff side and completing their goal of it. ~ Nate H.
- I really enjoyed the Eiffel tower so much! At the top you could really take in all of Paris and you can appreciate the opportunity you have to be there that others don’t. Another thing I loved was the D-Day cemetery. I could see all the people who gave their lives for this. I could really feel God’s presence because it was so peaceful. Even with all the people buried, the atmosphere was so calm and comforting. ~ Cameron S.
- These last few days in Paris, France I’ve made memories I will withhold for the rest of my life. As a little girl I always wanted to see the Eiffel Tower, I even had a bedroom decorated with the massive monument. So, you can only imagine how excited I was when I first got a glimpse of it, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. It was even more magnificent at night when they light it up and make it sparkle for everyone in Paris to see. Then, going to the Louvre was INCREDIBLE!! I wish we could have spent more time there because the place is beautiful and every room is breathtaking. The halls that held different time periods of art paintings blew my mind and was definitely my favorite part of the museum. The Catacombs was also interesting to learn about and see, and a little off putting, lol. I’d been wanting to go for a long time so it was cool to finally see the thousands upon thousands of skeletons that are hidden underground. Next, Normandy … Normandy is one of the most astonishing places I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s truly somewhere you have to go yourself and see because no camera could capture its beauty. To see and learn about one of the bloodiest wars during WWII was amazing and heart wrenching all at the same time. Lastly, all the excursions we’ve been doing are phenomenal but I also wanted to acknowledge how stunning the architecture is all around Paris and just how beautiful the countryside of France is. These little things make the trip all that it is. I’m extremely thankful for seeing everything we have so far and excited to go to Amsterdam!! : ) ~ Kira M.
- One of the most impactful things I’ve seen so far was going to Normandy. I didn’t expect for it to be so beautiful and peaceful despite all of the carnage that took place just a few decades ago. I kept thinking to myself that if there wouldn’t have been a war, then Normandy’s beaches would be home to a luxurious resort. However it is now a somber place that is still so beautiful yet still shows what took place many years ago with all of the craters and ruins of bunkers. ~ Blake W.
- I really like Normandy. The reason is, that we were able to see where our soldiers were fighting for the freedom of many. Going to Normandy made what we learned so much more real to know where exactly everything took place. It impacted me more going and seeing what the bombs did and that the results are still there and how many soldiers passed away from D-day! ~ Emily H.
- I am so glad that I came on this trip, this trip is so amazing. Visiting Paris with everyone was the best part. Translating French to English, teaching words in French, hearing the students repeat the words in French was funny! I also got to see my family, I am so thankful for that. The cruise was really fun and amazing. I had some much fun on this trip so far. I am so happy that I came on this trip! ~ Angela N.
- These past few days in France have been some of the most memorable days on the trip. Getting to see Paris in some of the most spectacular ways, such as deep in the catacombs, cruising on the river, and even on top of the Eiffel Tower. But what I have enjoyed the most while in France was traveling to the beautiful area of Normandy Beach and being able to see and stand on the same beaches that my Great grandfather and his best friends fought on for our freedom and the freedom of others. So many had sacrificed there lives on Normandy beach and it still amazes me to think, if my great grandfather had died on that beach I would not be here, and for that I am grateful. ~ Adam S.
- I’ve loved the trip so far, and I’ve especially enjoyed the pace of it. I haven’t had a chance to be bored and I feel I’m experiencing the cultures of places we visit very deeply. Every day has been an adventure especially here in France. Although I did my best to learn French, I ended up resorting to the universal language of nodding and waving my hands. I am looking forward to the Netherlands, as I think I know enough German to avoid embarrassment. But despite my embarrassment regarding my monolingualism, Europe has been an absolute blast. ~ Dean J.
- I really enjoyed going to the top of the Eiffel Tower and seeing Paris from a whole new perspective! I was also so happy that we got to see the Tower in the day and at night to see the difference and the beautiful lights. I also really loved seeing the catacombs and the macabre beauty of it all. Paris in general is just a gorgeous city and I loved going from place to place with such an incredible backdrop. ~ Nickoli B.
- For me, these last few days in Paris have been eye opening. I immediately fell in love with the city and its beauty, but it all came together for me as soon as we saw the Eiffel Tower. Going up the tower and being able to see Paris from above took my breath away, and I already know that that moment is one that I will never forget. Not to mention, I also got to do this with some of my favorite people in the world, and friends that have become almost family.
Being on that tower made me feel small, as if I am just a single part of this huge world we live in. Below the tower were hundreds of people with lives different than mine, and it just made me realize that there is so much to this world, which is a scary but really beautiful thought at the same time.
This expanded even more once we arrived in Normandy. Seeing such a historic site in front of my very eyes was shocking because I have learned so much about history there, but in that moment, I got to see it. The beauty of Normandy was indescribable. The flowers exploded from the crater-like holes in the ground, but as Nickoli said, it was an explosion of light. On this trip, I have seen sights that I never thought I would get to see. I am in love with this place, and I cannot wait to keep learning from it. ~ Naiomi S.
- This trip to Europe has been something I will never forget and hopefully return to in the future! Experiencing different cultures is a passion of mine and just seeing all the different ways people go about life in London, Paris, and Normandy has been amazing. I also had the opportunity to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower (WAY bigger in person) where you could see for miles in every direction and it honestly takes your breath away! We also ventured to Normandy which has some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen! It was surreal seeing the places where the US invaded and what was left over from the war including bunkers and massive craters in the ground from artillery fire. It makes me even more thankful for the veterans and current military that risk their lives to keep us safe! I can’t wait till we head out tomorrow morning to see the Netherlands! (Where my great grandparents were from!) #proudtobeatoehead #blondehairedblueeyeddutchbo ~ Christian F
We head out in the morning by train to Harleem, Amsterdam! We’re all excited to be experiencing this together. Missing my students that didn’t get to come! Looking forward to seeing your faces next Monday 😀 !!!
P.S. Another Shout out ….. Sooooooo appreciate Nan and Chris Castello and Jeff Smith (Summit Alumni dad and 13 years of co-leading the 11th grade D.C. trip) and their leadership and friendship. Thank you to their families that sacrifice to allow them to be able to join us on this trip!