West Virginia University in Vendée, France


Les Sables!

5 juin 2010

Although we have a very early departure in morning at 8h30 am, you can see that our Vendéens are most dedicated to their academic work.  They have just spent the better part of the day on a field assignment in the streets of Paris for their first video, due on Monday morning.  Now, they gather in the breakfast room at the hotel and assemble their vodcast (even though it's close to midnight!).  Kaitlynn, Peggy, Tory and Jordan are hard at work for their respective teams, Mélusine and Clemenceau.


We are now on the train from Paris to Les Sables, a very comfortable ride (n'est-ce pas, Emily?).  While Emily is taking a well-deserved nap, Alison is hard at work trying to help the French train industry by responding to a survey. In the first years of the program, we had to change trains in Nantes, and it was always an anxiety-filled part of the excursion--would the 10 minutes allowed be enough to transfer students and their many suitcases to the connecting train to Les Sables?  More often than not, that second train would be an old, puffy locomotive that stopped in every village.  No chance to nap there.


David is a very fast learner.  As you can see, he is deeply involved with his homework, a dictionary under his elbow.  But he has taken with him supplies to recharge his batteries.  No more Coca-Cola products for him, he is definitely turning French, a bottle of Perrier close at hand.


Peggy and Tory are also assimilating very quickly.  They have learned to turn every opportunity into a fashion statement, coordinating here their train seats to match with their outfits.  Dr. V. couldn't have done it better herself.  Bon travail, les filles!


The Dr. Lastingkoff could not resist and included this beautiful shot of Rachael as she uses her time quite nicely to study in the few minutes she has left before she meets her new family in Les Sables.



Alexandra Anderson and Kaitlynn Anderson are greeted by Madame Catherine Cavan with one of her sons, a great supporter of WVU since he was a very, very young boy.  (Notice his flying WVU logo!)


Melaney Arruda will be hosted this summer by Mme Riffat, who will now have a house filled with laughter.


David Brown and Allison Fleming will have a great time with Mme Dupont this summer.  This is a quiet couple of students, but we know that their host mother will keep them on their toes!


Tory Rodgers is welcomed by M. et Mme Dubois, who are among our most experienced host families.  We are confident that they will find their new "daughter" quite engaging.


Kevin LaFalce is met by M. et Mme Fersancourt, who have agreed to host a student this year for the first time.  We know that Kevin will be such a good ambassador that they will become fast friends and supporters of WVU-V.  Merci d'avance, Kevin--the pressure is on.


Alicen Railing is going to stay with the Ménager.  You may recognize the Ménager family from 2 summers ago, when they starred in the now cult video: "Papa, y'a plus d'pain!


Liz Flynn meets her family, another Ménager family, maybe not quite so famous, but also a family who has hosted several very happy students.


Benjamin Hancock will be staying with Mme Valette, whom you may remember from last summer.  Mme Valette did a superb job in 2009, finding and coordinating the hosts families.


Jordan Rost will be staying  with Mme Mac Loughlin this year, and the two of them seem to be off to a good start.


Emily Orlikoff will spend her stay with the Gourraud family, who came en force to greet her at the train station.


Mme Trichet Grelaud comes to meet Peggy Tomko and Rachael Klimas.  We certainly hope that the three of them will enjoy these next few weeks together.


This is the Lastingoff team, along with Lucie Lastinger, her young cousin Hermine Benoist, and Mme Marie Le Bourhis, Dr. V's cousin.  Marie is the person responsible for finding the host families and matching them with our students.  This is a very important part of our program, and we are lucky to have found several dedicated people in Les Sables to assist us with this project. 


Also along to assist us at the train station is Lauren Emerick.  Lauren is an honorary Vendéenne who first came to Les Sables in 2007 as a student, then in 2008 as an assistant, and in 2010 as a bénévole.  She is here with her friend Lesley.

Please send e-mail to  V. Lastinger or J. Orlikoff to provide feedback about this page.