Middle school students share hopes

After reading articles and attending a Europe Day presentation  by WWII vet and French Legion of Honor recipient Robert Patton, Smith middle school students sent him letters describing what they learned. The American/French friendship began long before June 6, 1944, but the emotional ties run deep when these students walk the beaches of Normandy, see the American flags and memorials in most every village and hear the depth of gratitude in the local’s voices- still today. Our students and teachers experience an immense sense of pride for our soldiers and country. They acknowledge the effects of war and the necessity to develop and maintain institutions of peace such as the European Union. They appreciate the newly-formed friendships established with their Belgian pen pals as one step forward to global understanding and world peace.

These are the students who hope to learn more about WWII, the European Union, and European daily life as they spend a week with their host family in Belgium.  Many of them need financial assistance to participate. Please consider helping finance one child’s experience and share your comments.

Contact Robin McMahon   rmcmahon@chccs.k12.nc.us


Voices of students who hope to learn more about Europe in 2013

Mr. Robert Patton receives the French Legion of Honor medal for his service during WWII . Mr. Patton liberated numerous concentration camps and visited Smith Middle School on Europe Day, May 2012 to share his story.

7 Responses so far.

  1. admin says:

    Claire Y said…
    To go on this trip, more than 50 students, including me, have written essays, attended weekly Euro Club meetings, sold ducks for fundraising, and volunteered to help out at Europe Day. It’s been a great experience, and if I am able to go, I would be extremely ecstatic.

    Participating on this Belgian exchange will greatly change my world, because I have the chance to test my French abilities I gained the past year to its extent. I get the opportunity to communicate face-to-face with my pen pal, which gives me obstacles that merely writing to my pen pal didn’t give me. This will challenge me, and help me increase my French speaking skills. Not only will this benefit my French speaking skills, but seeing the wonders of Belgium and France will open my eyes to things I had never seen or even noticed before. I will understand what it sounds like to have a real conversation in French, and the people around me speaking in French will encourage me to want to speak the beautiful language. I get the chance to put things I learned in class into real life situations. For instance, if I go shopping, I would be able to ask how much something costs, or what my total is. Not only will I be able to say things, but I will understand things. Getting to experience things the same things that my pen pal experiences will allow me to fully understand her, and we would have more topics to talk about. I can make contrasts of America and Belgium, and really know what our differences and similarities are.
    Instead of looking at the one in the classroom, I hope I get the opportunity to visit the real Eiffel Tower. I would like to go shopping not only to see what the difference of prices in America and France are, but to see what European fashion is like. I basically want to be able to make comparisons between America and France/Belgium, so that my French learning will be enhanced. I want to visit museums to learn about the art and history of Europe, so I can make relations of Europe and America. I hope to practice enough French so that I advance my fluency in French, and I will quickly interpret what people are saying in French. I hope that I will grow a stronger connection with my pen pal, and our letters and conversations over the internet will be more interesting and include more vocabulary.
    I have played sports on teams, and I feel like I work well in teams. I know that I will have to cooperate, and that if I go on the trip, everyone will be making contributions, not just me. I have great leadership skills, and I have a good loud voice that comes in handy in many situations. I am creative, I can adapt easily to new cultures, and I can use the resources around me to help me achieve things that I need to. I feel good about working on teams, but like the fact that not too many people are attending the exchange program, so things don’t get out of hand.
    One of the advantages of not being permitted to bring electronics on the trip is that students will be obligated to talk to their pen pals the whole time, instead of burying their faces in their iPods or laptops to avoid conversation and the hardships of speaking French. This will greatly challenge us and help us face our fears of speaking in French. Another advantage is that we will be closed out of America, and get to soak in every detail of France and Belgium. We won’t keep on thinking about our friends and family, but instead, we will truly have the feeling that we are living the life of a Belgian.

  2. admin says:

    Adriana said…
    Pourquoi J’ai Envie de Participer dans le Programme d’Échange Belge
    Par Adrienne Lorenzini

    1. Comment est-ce que votre participation dans l’echange belge vous changera-t-elle?
    Mon rêve c’est de un jour faire partie des gens qui décident ce qu’il se passe dans le monde, soit un chef de nation, soit un représentant aux Nations Unies, ou possiblement un ambassadeur. Si je veux faire ça un jour, il faut que j’apprenne comment le monde fonctionne. Je veux voir l’Union Européen, je veux voir les plages de la Normandie où nos braves soldats ont débarqué.
    J’adore voyager. Je veux voir le monde, les cultures différentes…même si quand je voyage je ne suis pas toujours dans une situation où je me sens à l’aise, cet a dire je ne suis pas dans ma zone de confort. Justement, je crois que c’est sain, que ça me fait du bien, Ça me prépare pour le monde. J’ai déjà voyagé, mais ça c’é tait toujours avec ma famille. J’espère pouvoir dire que notre groupe est devenu ma famille aussi, mais pour l’instant, le voyage sera sans ma famille, et ça aussi ça m’aidera a grandir. En voyageant sans famille, et en participant dans l’échange, je pourrai mûrir.

    2. Qu’est-ce que tu espères faire, voir, et apprendre?
    Quand je suis a Liège, j’espère voir tous les lieux fameux dont j’ai tant entendu parler durant ma carrière a Smith. Le Peloton, les musées, les églises, la Meuse. J’adore l’histoire, et j’espère en apprendre la leur. J’espere aussi pouvoir visiter les bâtiments de l’Union Européen, et apprendre les fonctions de l’UE. J’espère pouvoir voir les endroites de Paris connus du monde entier. Quelle magie, quelle rêve, quelle paradis.
    Ce n’est pas toujours facile pour moi de me faire des amies, mais quand j’ai rencontré Manon (la fille qui est venue vivre chez moi en avril) je me suis dit qu’on avait vraiment un lien, et donc je voudrais la revoir. On s’est très bien amusées ensemble, et elle m’a tellement décrit ça vie (pendant qu’elle était ici et dans les émails qu’on s’envoie) que j’ai hâte de l’experiencer. On avait beaucoup en commun, et elle a vu ma vie, maintenant…à moi de voir la sienne.
    Finalement, je pense que tu sais que j’ai vu déjà vu la Suisse et l’Italie. Et quand j’étais la, j’ai remarque pas mal de stéréotypes. Les Américains sont gros, ils sont paresseux, j’ai même dit quelque chose très vite (je parle beaucoup plus rapidement que la majorité des Américains, on est d’accord?) et mon cousin a tout de suite dit que les américains font tout trop vite. Oui, je l’avoue, on a beaucoup de stéréotypes ici aux États Unis, et j’essaie de changer ça tous les jours. Je veux aller en Belgique, pour leur montrer la vérité a propos des Américains.

  3. admin says:

    Dear Mr. Patton,
    As a Conservative Jewish girl living in 21st century America, it is hard to remember my family and my ancestry, rooting to the highly populated Jewish areas in Poland and Russia. This American life is hard to lead, while still keeping alive the traditions of my grandparents, great-grandparents, and ancestors. But one thing, I’ll always carry with me, as a Jewish girl, is the Holocaust.
    As a young girl born in California and living for a year in Israel, my heritage was quickly demonstrated to me as I had regular visits with my grandfather, a Jewish American soldier stationed in Germany. I grew up to the stories of chess with his men, playing cards, German rum, and the battle stories that were some of his dearest memories. I grew up hungry for information on my heritage, reading any book I could find that were even remotely age-appropriate for me- Night, by Elie Weisel, The Diary of Anne Frank, and multiple fiction stories that retold the story of past generations. I learned of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Bergen-Belsen and Buchenwald, and the awful, awful events that happened there and that killed over 6 million of my people. On my fifth grade Washington DC field trip, I begged my father to let me visit the one museum I was interested in- the Holocaust Museum. Concerned that I was too young for the whole shebang, my father led me into the small children’s exhibit that was aimed for kids my age- but it wasn’t enough. We ran a quick tour through the entire museum, and I saw things that have scarred me for life.
    My thirst for this knowledge hasn’t been quenched- simply, restrained. When I heard of you coming to talk to Smith Middle, I was so excited- unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it. However, researching you, and your accomplishments, and of your lifetime has made me truly awed at your willingness to inform people of this terrible event. I would like to thank you, personally, for all of the things you’ve done to make this world a better place to live, especially as a young Jewish girl. Your feats are truly amazing, and from the bottom of my heart, my deepest thanks, I would like to say thank you.
    Davida H. -8th grade

  4. admin says:

    Dear Mr. Patton,

    I just wanted to say thank you so much for your service. I really appreciate it! Fighting in WWII for our country really means a lot to me. i think that it is interesting how you fought on the front lines and never shot anybody. I’m just curious, but when you went to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp, was it as bad as people said it was? You are a very brave man and I know that many people would never be able to do what you did! I hope you’re doing good! I just wanted to say again thank you so much for your service. You are a truly amazing man!

    Holly B- 7th grade

  5. admin says:

    Marija C. said…
    Dear Mr.Patton,
    I have heard all about you from my french teacher and all the fascinating articles written about you and your adventures! I love hearing about world war two stories. They have always interested me and I can’t wait to hear you speak.
    You and every other soldier who volunteered to fight in world war two are so brave. To me it means a lot, that you were willing to put your self at risk to protect our country. You have gotten Frances legion of honor you were on the front lines liberating Europe, but still you never killed one person. That is a very honorable thing to do and I hope if I am ever put in a situation like that I would do the same.
    I was wondering if you still keep up with some of the men you fought with over in Europe? Or if you have ever talked with one of the Holocaust survivors, the ones you liberated?
    Thank you for coming to my school to tell us your stories and keeping the tales of world war two alive. After reading about you, you inspired me to be a better person. Again THANK YOU for everything!

    May 24, 2012 9:21 PM

  6. admin says:

    Liam L. said…
    Thank you so much, Mr. Patton. It’s amazing to think about how you were a part of such a monumentous event in, not only national, but also global history. It’s very important for us in the US to recognize the bravery of our soldiers, and other country’s soldiers, in WWII. It is also important to remember how much countries in Europe were affected by WWII, not only physically, but also in every person’s memories. In the US, where we were never bombed or attacked save once, and it is often lost on us the gigantic scale of devastation in Europe. I wish everybody could hear Mr. Patton’s story.

    June 6, 2012 12:02 PM

  7. admin says:

    Dear Mr. Patton,
    I wanted to say thank you for all the things you have done for everybody. If it weren’t for you, or the other soldiers, the world will not have been what it is today-amazing. It’s truly a miracle that you joined the military even when you were scared of taking a life. When other people joined the military, they were probably scared and nervous, knowing that what they were about to do would be dangerous. But you probably had more to worry about, and under all those emotions; you were strong and determined to do what it took to help our world.
    You fought, but not how other soldiers fought. You fought in your own way without ever taking a person’s life. You still fought when the other soldiers doubted you. You didn’t let that drag you down and instead you kept on fighting. Let me tell you that a person who never gives up is a person who should be well respected and admired by everyone. A person who risks his life and puts the world first is a person who should stay in everybody’s heart and should never be forgotten.
    Our world has suffered and received many injuries but never once has it not face the treat face to face. Never once has it cringed from war. Thank you Mr. Patton and all of the other soldiers for helping our world.

    Allene X

    May 24, 2012 7:22 PM

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *