The Year in France, Part I….

If you are brand new to the blog, do read the July 18th post before reading this one. Okay, here’s what “got started” with the Canada trip. My uncle, the oldest of three children of my maternal grandparents, was a state legislator for a while. It was during the time when the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana was established and in addition to the summer program in Canada, there were either seven or nine scholarships made available for the coming school year to go to France. Angers is in the province of Anjou in the Loire Valley where many castles were built. The royals and other aristocracy would go to the castles in the summer to escape the heat of Paris and associated illnesses. Rather like our Midwest, there is less of an accent to the French spoken there than anywhere in the country. One part of the University was designed for foreign students and that was where Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s had their respective exchange programs. Anyway, all the scholarship seats had been given to legislators from South Louisiana parishes for them to award. One of them came to my uncle and explained he couldn’t award his scholarship without risking offending someone and he offered the allocation to my uncle. My uncle asked if it would be okay for him to offer it to me and after all, a little nepotism was commonplace in Louisiana.

The kicker to all this was I would literally have less than a month from the time I returned from Canada, I would have just barely turned seventeen and I would be the only high school student because the others were all at least 2 years older and already in college. Now, it so happened, I had all but one American History credit I needed to graduate from high school and my senior year would be almost all college prep elective classes. I’m not really sure who talked to whom since a number of conversations took place without my knowledge. The high school worked out a deal where if I would take the American History course by correspondence while I was in France, I could be credited and given a diploma.

Needless to say, I was stunned when the plan was presented to me and it was a whirlwind for prep and departure. If I thought Canada was an adventure (and it surely was), it was nothing compared to what I was about to enter into. That will be the next post.

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