[Story as told by Riccarton High School, NZ, students]
Historic and literary studies bring together two high schools with a common interest in WWI from across the world.
Riccarton High School and Lycée Charles de Gaulle met on the Shared History. The Lycée Charles de Gaulle was studying 'La vie des Civils' , while Riccarton was exploring the war from a background of La Guerre des Boutons.
Lycée Charles de Gaulle added us to their Facebook page and suggested that we visit them while we were in France, which we did.
Their teacher, who had previously taught in Arras, suggested a visit there, since it is a day trip from Paris, and accessible by train. New Zealand soldiers played a significant part in the war effort from Arras.
Lycée Charles de Gaulle was such an amazing school. We received a very warm welcome from all of the students and staff. It was a wonderful experience for all of us, as we got to make friendships with a lot of the students that will be long-lasting.
It was outstanding to hear the French students present in English their interpretations of French war cartoons. Their insight was really interesting, and generated a lot of thoughts and discussion among us. Their teacher had thoughtfully prepared a presentation and challenge for us on the role of Kiwi soldiers during the war.Mr Agogué discusses the role of Kiwi soldiers
The whole day was a wonderful opportunity to meet and talk with French students and to learn more about World War 1. We also learned that one of the significant battles of the war was fought on the outskirts of Roissy itself.
It was even more worth the while as we had the opportunity later to travel to Arras, where there was a French-New Zealand connection during the war. It was such a great experience as we got to see obvious New Zealand references down in the tunnels at Carrière Wellington, an enormous complex of tunnels and caverns dug by New Zealand soldiers during World War 1.The cenotaph in the Place des Héros - Arras
What really stuck with us, was actually walking through the tunnels at Carrière Wellington, as we learnt about it while at the location.A display in the Carrière Wellington
We also walked around the Cimetière Britannique, where headstones and engravings on the memorial walls marked the death of soldiers who fought near Arras. Here, the mood turned solemn. However, it was important to pay our respects and understand the gravity of the deaths.The tombstones of two Kiwi soldiers in the cimetière Britannique in Arras.
Visiting Lycée Charles de Gaulle was an amazing experience not only for our education but for forming new bonds between our schools. We will remain in contact with many of the people we met, and are grateful to the students and the teachers who welcomed us so warmly and taught us so much of French history, culture and way of life