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Day 1: Meeting up with the students, visiting Normandy on the 75th Anniversary of D-Day

What a fantastic day! Having just flown in yesterday and catching the USA’s World Cup victory live, I will admit I was a bit wobbly from jet lag at 6:00am. But that was quickly replaced with excitement to see the students and their host families.


Omaha Beach Memorial

As the families gathered outside the school at 7:30am, it was difficult for me to distinguish between Parisians and Portlanders. All of the students were clearly excited for the adventure ahead of them, as was I. The opportunity to see the Normandy History museum and Omaha Beach does not come often, or maybe ever, and both my wife Emily and I had grandfathers that fought in World War II.


Although it was a long drive to get there, the students were engaged throughout the day as they visited the museum and had a guided tour of the American Cemetery. The experience of walking up to the monument, reading the names of those that gave their lives, seeing the thousands of gravestones for those that gave their lives, and seeing the ocean that delivered them to the beach behind these monuments was one I will never forget. It was truly moving. The same can be said for walking on Omaha Beach where the future changed so dramatically due to those genuine heroes. What a gift for our students to have the opportunity to see this, especially on the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.

Then it was back on the bus for the ride home. Despite the long and emotionally draining day, the students were joyful the entire ride! They were all relieved to get back to their host families for some deserved rest. Can’t wait to see some classes tomorrow!


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