This summer, 10 Andover students will embark on a chronological and geographical tour of French history as part of the Piette Program, a new interdisciplinary summer opportunity designed by the French and History Departments and the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology.
The 17-day expedition will feature hands-on archaeological excavation at a private Magdalenian site, tours of museums and various linguistic activities, as well as visits to famous caves, castles, villages and major tourist sites, according to the program’s brochure.
Throughout the trip, each participant will explore a research topic related to European history, French or archaeology and will have an opportunity to present their research the following fall at a campus-wide event, according to the brochure.
The program was organized by Claire Gallou, Instructor in French, Nile Blunt, Instructor in History, and Ryan Wheeler, Director of the Peabody. Gallou and Blunt will chaperone the trip, which will take place from June 26 to July 13.
Andover first began developing connections with two French museums of archaeology and the Magdalenian excavation site when the Peabody received items from the Musée d’Archéologie Nationale for its collection in the 1920s and 30s, according to the program’s brochure.
Gallou said that the Peabody received letters in French along with the artifacts, and the task of translating them became an activity for advanced-level French students during the 2009-2010 school year. The documents indicated that the artifacts were on loan and must be returned to France.
Gallou and Malinda Blustain, Director of the Peabody from 2001-2012, traveled to France to meet with the directors of the French museums, who offered to provide behind-the-scene tours for Andover students.
“The two of us looked at each other and said, ‘There needs to be more that comes out of this than just returning the artifacts,’ and that’s how the program born,” said Gallou.
“[After the offer] we spotted other places of interest, in prehistory and history, in France and designed a tour based on these particular relationships we established when we returned the artifacts,” she continued.
The students will travel to cities of Mas D’Azil, Niaux, Sarlat, Les Eyzies, Chenonceau, Paris and Caen, according to the brochure. During the trip, students will learn specific vocabulary to use in daily conversation. They will be challenged to perform specific tasks, such as ordering meals at a restaurant or buying things at an open-air market, to practice French speaking skills, according to Gallou.
“I think this program is special and unique because, at the moment, it is the only off-campus, international learning opportunity at PA that focuses on [European history]. It offers students the opportunity to go on archeological digs and to go ‘behind the scenes’ at museums,” wrote Blunt in an e-mail to The Phillipian.
Blunt, who minored in French in college, became involved in the program’s development because he teaches European history in the fall. “I [thought] it would be exciting to take Andover students on a historical journey throughout France,” wrote Blunt.
Gallou said, “We wanted [the trip] to be a ‘team’ trip, in that we didn’t want to have two or three little groups of friends. We want one team doing everything together, and we thought 10 [students] would probably be the limit to have a nice, gelling group,” said Gallou.
Although the program is intended for students in French 120 and above, all students are allowed to apply. The application, which consists of a form and faculty recommendation, is due January 21.
The trip will cost between $5,000 to $6,000 per student, and financial aid will be available for qualified students.
In November, Gallou, Blunt and Wheeler received an Abbot grant of $59,384 to help fund the program, according to a previous article in The Phillipian.