Smith College Junior Year Abroad in Paris 65th Anniversary Reunion: May 2016

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1 Smith College Junior Year Abroad in Paris 65th Anniversary Reunion: May 2016 COMING TOGETHER The women who made up Smith College s Junior Year Abroad to Paris convened May 17-20, 2016 for their 65-year JYA anniversary JUNIOR YEAR ABROAD CLASS MEMBERS In attendance: Jocelyn Arundel Sladen Warrenton, VA Helen Searls DeGroot South Dartmouth, MA Sally Beekley Jayne Irvine, CA Lois Goldberg Grjebine Paris, France Olive Gibson Lorsignol Paris, France Suzanne Nash Carantec, France Not in attendance: Polly Davis Nova Scotia, Canada Barbara Beeman Eveleigh Palm Coast, FL Anna Monser Gellert New York, NY Joan Pines Grossman Branford, CT Betsy Forman Harrell Santa Rosa, CA Mary Allison Kirschner Portland, OR Hope Griswold McCrum San Rafael, CA Peggy (Kitty) Perkins Skallerup Washington, DC Susan Felstiner Thomas Slingerlands, NY

2 TUESDAY, MAY 17 A WELCOME FEAST IN MONTPARNASSE With many having arrived just that morning from the United States, the group came together for the first time on Tuesday, May 17 to enjoy dinner at Lois apartment in the Montparnasse neighborhood of Paris. Jocelyn, Lois, Suzanne, Helen, Olive, and Sally caught up over wine, hors d oeuvres, and a delicious threecourse meal prepared by Lois. Dawn, a Smith College 2000 graduate who now lives in France, shared insights from her own (much more recent) Junior Year Abroad experience. The most surprising of these: Today s Junior Year Abroad students come to Paris speaking little French. This prompted memories of the strict language honor code that the Junior Year Abroad class was required to abide by, though not all did. Olive and Lois admitted they often spoke English with each other, and Jocelyn and Helen don t regret their fun times singing American songs. C est la vie! Perhaps nothing and no one was the subject of more dinner discussion than Madame Guilloton, the coordinator of the 1950 Smith College Junior Year Abroad program in Paris. Sixty-five years later, Madame remains a controversial figure! After a relaxing evening complete with red wine homemade by Helen s husband, gifts from America, and many, many memories, we headed back to homes and hotels to rest up for a busy second day.

3 WEDNESDAY, MAY 18 AN ADVENTURE IN CHARTRES On Wednesday, the group awoke early to pile into a limousine van and travel 90 kilometers southwest to the cathedral of Chartres. Though the weather didn t exactly cooperate offering blustery winds and biting chill the exterior sculptures on the cathedral were well worth braving the elements for, and the inside was a revelation. After centuries of neglect, the stonework has recently been restored to its crisp cream color. The stained glass windows, each vividly depicting biblical scenes, were striking even with the reduced sunlight. For lunch, the Junior Year Abroaders crossed the street to Café Serpente, a site of some debate. Did the group eat there during the Junior Year Abroad excursion? Too much hot wine thawed us out then, and too many years have passed since, to ever know for certain. During the lunch, Jocelyn produced the manifest from the Ile de France the ship that, in September 1950, took Smith College students to their European adventure. All Junior Year Abroaders names were listed in the manifest under Classe Touriste, but we remember being bumped up to Cabine.

4 THURSDAY, MAY 19 TOURING THE CITY OF LIGHTS Thursday s van tour of Paris was complicated by workers demonstrations, or manifs. The day began with a rendezvous at the Louvre, where Olive provided impassioned commentary (negative!) on the statue of Louis XIV produced by Bernini s workshop in the place of honor in the Cour Napoleon. The group admired the interior sculpture courtyards of the Louvre, then the Palais Royal, with its controversial column installation by Daniel Buren and a just-opened rare rose exhibit. Back on the van, we swept past the circular Bourse de Commerce just allotted to Francois Pinault for his contemporary art collection, and then past Notre Dame en route to L Institut de Monde Arabe, with its superb glass and lattice-like walls and sweeping rooftop panorama over the Seine down to Notre Dame. After lunch at a colorful café adjacent to the city s canals, the tour continued past La Villette and the new Philarmonia and Paris s eastern neighborhoods, following the new tramway that encircles Paris. The group headed back across the Seine to a new modern Paris and the four open book towers of the National Library. Dodging manifs, we arrived at the Cartier Foundation. Disembarking from the van, the group viewed through the foundation s glass walls the lush urban native plant garden, which offered native plant enthusiasts Sally and Jocelyn plenty to discuss. At a stop at the wonderful new Louis Vuitton Foundation by Frank Gehry, the group regretted Daniel Buren s temporary multicolored additions to the building s curving glass walls. The busy afternoon ended with a reflective visit to the Grand Palais and its Monumenta 2016 exhibition of renowned contemporary artist Huang Yong Ping s Empires, a monumental-scale commentary on capitalism s excesses.

5 FRIDAY, MAY 20 REID HALL REMINISCENCES The most meaningful moments of the reunion were saved for last. On Friday morning, the Junior Year Abroad members visited Reid Hall to see the buildings and grounds where they lived, attended classes, and made lifelong friends. In a roundtable-style discussion in Le Grand Salon facilitated by Reid Hall director Dr. Brunhilde Biebuyck (top row, second from left in group photo below) and current Smith in Paris program director Martine Gantrel (top row, second from right), the women answered questions and reminisced on classroom experiences, influential figures, side-trips, and other adventures and life lessons resulting from their time spent studying abroad 65 years ago. Said Olive, It was a wonderful exchange, and I only wish that all of the Junior Year Abroad members could have attended and had the opportunity to present their impressions and appreciation. The reunion ended fittingly with a dinner atop Le Centre Georges Pompidou, with a panoramic view of Paris. To all those who attended and helped make the reunion a success, thank you. And to those who couldn t and were sorely missed, À bientôt!