Sunday, March 27, 2011

Martinique Images and Videos

Cultural Center in Fort de France

Anthropology Museum in Fort de France

Local market in downtown Fort de France

Display of local produce

Professor Ramakrishnan and French intern Jean-Marie at the market

Entrance to the market

Authentic Creole lunch by the beach

Theater of St. Pierre destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Pelee in 1902

The ominous volcanic Mt. Pelee

Chaperone Elise and Proffesor Francois at the monument remembering the capsized slave boat the coast of Martinique that killed many slaves who were unable to escape because they were chained.

Students enjoying their Martiniquaise dance workshop.

Learning to dance to Zouk music with a local dance instructor.

Aerial view of the island of Martinique.

Sumptuous breakfast at the hostel.
Colorful spread of breakfast items.

Breakfast seating on the terrace.

Schoelcher University campus square

Entrance to the campus

Downtown Fort de France

Cannot get away from Mickey D, even in the Antilles!

French flag flying over the fort that gave the capital of Martinique its name, Fort de France.

Napoleon's wife Josephine with her head cut off. The story goes that she helped reestablish slavery in Martinique, and was despised by the locals.

Fort de France public library

Ceiling inside the library

Interior of library


Proffesor Ramakrishnan passing off as a Martiniquaise

Sean gives it a try!

Handmade jewelry in Fort de France

Fort de France bay

More of Mt. Pelee's destruction

Chaperones Tennille, Elise, and Jean-Marie bringing the destroyed theater back to life 

Dungeon where the sole survivor of the 30,000 that perished in Mt. Pelee's eruption was found.

Local alley in St. Pierre.

Street named after Mt. Pelee's eruption: Hell Street

Cascades in the tropical rain forests in Northern Martinique.

Grounds where the film "Sugar Cane Alley" was shot.

Place where the author of the book "Sugar Cane Alley",  Joseph Zobel, lived.

Diamond Rock, representing the struggle between the British and the French to claim Martinique.

The protected ecosystem of Martinique's mangroves.

Students relaxing at a cafe by the seashore on the Southern part of Martinique.

Aerial view of downtown Fort de France.

Our history proffesor, Marie-France, and our bus driver, Paul.

Centre International de Sejour Martinique, our hostel.
Ashlee, Spencer, and French intern Jean-Marie

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A annot soleil Martinique! (See you soon Martinique!)

This is our ultimate post! Jean-Marie collected all the impressions of the students in a brainstorming like meeting. At the end of the meeting, he asked them to describe the whole trip in one word.

  • We raised an interest for the geography and the development issues of the island.
  • The classes we attended matched for most of us our majors and minors at Colgate.
  • All the information that was given to us by the professors and the locals was always in context.
  • Trying local food and working through our prejudices about it.
  • Using the French we learned in class at Colgate.
  • The fascinating history of the evolution of Creole.
  • Being able to get out of your comfort zone and explore Martinique and its people.
  • The Diamond rock history (the symbol of the French and British conflicts)
  • Professors teaching the classes and joining us to give more explanations on the field trips when we toured the island.
  • The professors continuously complementing us on our motivation and enthusiasm.
  • We enjoyed our discussions with local college students.
  • The group itself is the high point of the trip.
  • Walking up the mountain when the bus broke down for 20 minutes.
  • Beyond the luxury of the food, the weather and the beaches; I'm so thankful that I was able to build the bonds that I have with the group and the individuals we have worked with in Martinique. The island is beautiful, rich in culture and tradition has a great spiritual energy. I learned so much I cant wait to visit again.
  • The ocean and the weather were really appreciable.
  • Delicious pastries.
  • Having a workshop on Zouk (the local music and dance) at the hostel for our last night.
  • Eating Kinders!!!
  • Eating French crepes on the beach.
  • Exploring the island and seeing all the beautiful mountains, beaches, sites, and the colors of the land. It was great learning about all the culture and the the history of this beautiful island that it Martinique. It's always wonderful being in a place of great history.

One word to describe this trip:


Mesi Anpil (Merci beaucoup / Thanks a lot)




Woulo (Bravo / Well done)

Fout I bel la Martinique (Qu’est ce qu’elle est belle la Martinique! / Martinique is beyond beautiful)




Soleil creole (creol sun)



A annot soleil Martinique!

(See you soon Martinique!)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Creole classes: A annot soleiy

Hi all ! Here are the impressions of the group for our third complete day in Martinique. I (Jean-Marie) am reporting about this day so please forgive me for my mistakes or my lack of idioms etc. Hahahaha!
Ryan : Enjoyed the discussion we had with a group of English learners from the local University. She likes the fact that the Colgate group asked for it the day before and that we could plan such an interaction with Martiniquais the day right after the request. On the other hand, she says she could not really focus during the 2 Creole classes we had today.
Elize: Appreciated to see the students interacting with the local students during lunch time at the cafeteria. Her low point was that her roommate (Tennille) did not feel well during the day.
Ashlee: Had no word to say how she really enjoyed the creole lessons of the day and for that, she doesn’t have any low point to report. Moreover, before the bus arrived she appreciated the fact that students involved in the associations of the Universities taught us how to dance local dances.
Spencer: Said that his ‘high point’ for the day was the fight with saw on a parking lot between a boy and a girl who apparently were breaking up… Our bus literally turned into an audience watching a movie.  His ‘low point’ for the day is that he realizes how hard it is to go and interact with local students because he is shy but on the other hand he said that “Chris did a really good job” in interacting with students.
Sean: ‘High point’ the dinner at a local creole restaurant… His ‘low point’, walking after dinner with the food on his stomach! Hahahahaha!
Félix: Really appreciated the girls we met during the discussion between the Colgate group and the local English learners. He also said that helping a group of visually impaired during the breakfast  @ the cafeteria.
Josh: Joins the others when it comes to thinking about his ‘high point’ and can’t really think of any ‘low point’.
Chris: Has so much to tell… He really liked the interaction with the students especially because he says that he ii rather shy but he could cope with it so he feels quite happy with that. His low point : he got his first mosquito bite.
Joann:  Just like the others… interacting with local students was her ‘high point’!
Leah:  Joins the others for her ‘high point’ and adds that she really appreciated the compliments we got from all the professors we worked with via Monsieur Morello, the man who organized all the classes and activities for us during our trip : “This is one of the first times that all the professors who already worked with American students say that there was such a positive energy and enthusiasm from the students […]” Her ‘low point’ on the other hand is that she felt that it was hard for her to interact with students.
Jean-Marie: That’s me so I’ll write with ‘I’… I loooooove the group we are and my ‘high point’ of the day is that I cannot think of any ‘low point’ at all!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Une Excursion Dans le Nord

Today was packed! We fit at least three days worth of site seeing into 12 hours. Marie-France from Schoelcher Universite met up with us at the hostel and immediately whisked us into the city of Fort-de-France where we did a walking tour of downtown. We shopped at the souvenir market and the food market where the students bought spices and knick-knacks to bring back to the States. Jean-Marie helped us barter with the vendors. So as to stay consistent with our lessons from yesterday, we went to the Ecology museum where we learned about the various plants of the island and the lives of the slaves on the Caribbean plantations. The National Library was gorgeous. The interior was decorated with the names of the most famous French authors including Hugo, Diderot, among others. From the city we headed into the northern country to a restaurant where we finally were able to try an authentic Martinique meal of fried cod with salad, grilled fish with salsa, rice and vegetables and fruit with cinnamon. Tres Delicioux!! Then came the moment that all of us had been waiting for… LA PLAGE! The students spent their hour and a half having swimming contests in the water, laughing and enjoying the sun. The sand was black from the residue from the Volcano. After drying off, we squished over to the Volcano museum where we learned about the horrors of the Volcanic eruptions of 1902: 30,000 people were killed by the eruption and only one survived, and he became famous for his burns by displaying them in the circus. The photos and artifacts from the eruption were disturbing. The town is still very clearly affected by the disaster. We also visited the prison site where the lone survivor was found. The ruins were beautiful, but had an ominous aura.


Chris- today was 70 and nice and cool. But with the accident of or tour guide the temperature went down to 20’s but warmed up again with eating the sugar cane and was cozy as the rain started on the way home.

Leah- today’s low point was when the guide cut her finger getting us sugar cane. The High was being able to enjoy a good meal together at lunch

Ryan- Today’s low was being paranoid from being around an active volcano as we were swimming. My high was being able to order bread and water in French over lunch and being in the water. I tried something new today with the fish we had. I didn’t like it but I stepped out of my comfort zone and ate it even though I didn’t like it

Joanna- the volcano ruins was great and seeing the prison where the lone survivor of 30,000 people who died in 1902 during the volcano eruption was made safe in his prison. My low was being tired from being out all day.

Spencer- the water falls were cool to see.

Felix- everything today was great. There was much more variety than I though it would be. It was great to see just going 10 or 20 mins away we experienced a climate change.

Josh- The high point was the beach and the waterfalls. Loved the being in the tropical rain forest atmosphere. My low point was feeling like an uber tourist and at some point I would like to go to a place like this and know my way around.

Ashlee- a low point was driving the bus through a winding rainy mountain. The high point was the sites that we visited today.

Lorva – Today was a great day

Jean- Marie- Today was a good day and the clean air was very comfortable and fluid. Yesterday and today was a perfect link. Yesterday we learned all about geography and history and today we got to see it> I have no low points I am enjoying this group and this trip

Sean- it was like partial clouds but the sun still came through. Today was not high and low points> it kind of flat lined. It was nice and pleasant

Devi- a low point was when I thought the tour guide was going to pass out. But I was glad she was okay and sit up and smiled. A high point was to see all the students have a blast in the water and having a good time and learn at the same time.

We are all burnt out, ready for bed, and ready for class tomorrow! We will have some Creole phrases for you by this time tomorrow.

Bon Soir!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Highs & Lows: Our first full day in Martinique.

We're going to do a different type of post tonight. We just finished discussing our personal "highs" and "lows" after our first day in Martinique and reflected on our initial impressions. Jean-Marie recorded a few of the student responses...

Joann: "The classes we attended at the university really connected to the political science classes I've taken at Colgate. It was interesting to hear local accounts on the lasting effects colonialism has had on Martinique."

Sean: "Breakfast was good but next time I need to get more baguettes. Overall the food is decent. Classes were ok, I enjoyed the history lesson."

Ashlee: "I absolutely enjoyed taking classes at the university, especially the creole lessons. Being a linguistic minor, I find the information both pertinent and fascinating. I also love the baguettes and the fruits. And the warm weather that doesn't exist at Colgate!"

Lorva: "I had such a great time today! Je comprends beaucoup et j'apprends beaucoup. I enjoyed the Creole lesson and comparing it to Hatian Kreyol. I never want to leave!"

Spencer: "Today, I learned so much about the culture of Martinique. My favorite part of the day was learning Creole. The language is very similar to French in its sounds but the sentence structure is completely different. I am looking forward to learning more."

Josh: "This place is pretty awesome. It was cool to learn about the history, culture, geography, and most of all the political issues of Martinique. Hearing about the strained relationship between France and Martinique was interesting. The country seems to be very dynamic. I am so excited to see the rest of the island!"

Chris: "Mom, I think I'm starting to understand why you get up every morning to run."

Felix: "I really enjoyed the different types of lessons all about Martinique. I enjoyed going to class and also learning some about the rest of my classmates. I think I learned a lot about Martinique culture that I would have never known just reading about in a book."

Leah: "To Mom + Dad- I'm not sunburnt yet! I also was able to successfully order a meal IN FRENCH. Clearly this was the highlight of my day."

Ryan: "Mom + Dad- You were right (as usual)... Martinique is gorgeous! Today we learned about the history, geography, and economy of Martinique and we had a 3 hour Creole lesson. I ordered my dinner in French and the woman actually understood me! Miss you!"

That's all for now! Tomorrow we will be going on our first excursion to the Northern part of Martinique. Details to follow.

A demain!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nous sommes arrivés!

After a long day of travel we finally touched down in Martinique around 4pm. We took the rest of the day to get situated in the hotel, recharge our batteries and explore our surroundings. So far, from what we have seen, Martinique is beautiful and warm! MMMM sunshine. The students are already using their french in conversation to navigate the hotel (asking for towels, shower curtains and suggestions for local cuisine). We were too tired to venture into Fort-de-France tonight (we are staying in the suburbs outside of the city) but we are looking forward to an all-out Creole meal tomorrow night. The bus is picking us up at 8AM for our first Creole lesson in the morning. Bon soir for now!

...And we're off!

3:30 AM! Just woke up for the flight that we’re catching this morning… in 12 hours we will be arriving in Martinique!! The next five days are packed with Creole classes, lessons on the culture, history, politics, economy and infrastructure of Martinique, tours of the beautiful city of Fort-de-France (we will be posting pictures but feel free to Google it in the meantime), among other activities (perhaps a little beach time?). The students are prepared to use their French as they navigate the city & immerse themselves in Martinique’s rich culture over these next few days. We are all very excited about what we will see, learn & bring back to ‘Gate!

Bon voyage to us!

Speak to you from Martinique.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011