American’s Abroad No More

I am no stranger to shamefully late blog posts. My hope for this post: finish writing about last year’s goings on before the new school year begins. I only have a few days left. So here it is.Image

Our two American students left the College for University at the end of term and so we had a BBQ and movie night to say good-bye. Another student, Alexander, came as well. He’s not American and he’s not graduating. Somehow whenever we serve steak he manages to get an invite. We call it the “Alexander phenomenon”; he must have food radar for such events.  I don’t know how he actually accomplishes such things but we like him well enough so we just let it go.Image

Anyway the year ended well and everyone is, hopefully, enjoying the summer holidays and gearing up for the Fall term (now just a few days away.) And this really will be my last post about steak. Really.Image


About thechavagnesexperience

Philip Gonzales, BA, MA, Mphil is a full time teacher at Chavagnes International College and that includes all the tasks involved in living at a boarding school: being on rotation for early morning wake-ups, nighttime dorm duties, supervising study halls, participating in daily communal meals, and the like. He teaches philosophy, classical civilization, religion and boxing mostly to the senior students in the upper school. He has earned a four year baccalaureate degree in Philosophy from Ave Maria University, an advanced Masters degree as well as an MPhil degree from the Institute of Philosophy at the Katholieke Universiteit of Leuven in Belgium and is now actively pursuing his doctorate. His travels in pursuit of his PhD have taken him to Poland to the University of Warclow and to the University of Maynooth in Ireland. Throughout his academic career he has been award an Academic Merit Scholarship at Ave Maria University, the Roby Scholarship from Thomas More College of Liberal Arts to study for a semester in Rome, as well as another Academic Merit Scholarship from KU Leuven to complete his MPhil degree. He has taught at the American College of Louvain in Leuven Belgium. He also has membership as a Junior Member of the International Hermeneutics Society and is a member of the International Association for the Study of the Philosophy of Edith Stein. His PhD dissertation is concerned with the philosophy of Edith Stein and Eric Przywara and their reinterpretation of the analogy of being. Sarah Gonzales, BA MA is a part time English teacher at Chavagnes International College. She also contributes to the pastoral support of the College and her students. Having transferred from Thomas More College of Liberal Arts to Ave Maria University she earned a four year baccalaureate degree in Literature. Her thesis pertained to Virginia Woolf’s work and the language of images and time as presented in the form of the modern novel. She also received an advanced Master’s degree in European Studies from the Katholieke Universiteit of Leuven writing her thesis on the concept of the Nation and the Nation State with the specific case study of Northern Ireland. She has been awarded a Rotary Club Scholarship for her excellence in community service, as well as the Roby Scholarship awarded to aid her studies in Rome. Sarah also has experience teaching religious education as well as figure skating to students of varying ages. She currently enjoys living in France where she raises her children and is free to pursue a variety of interests at her leisure.
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13 Responses to American’s Abroad No More

  1. Liza Beamish says:

    I am really enjoying your blog. We are hoping to move to Europe from Australia at the end of next year, and are hoping that Jeremy (our 14 year old) will be accepted to Chavagne. We are all very excited about our plans, and will continue to read your blog with anticipation. All the best,

    • Hello Liza,
      We would be very excited to have your son at our school! Jeremy would be more than welcome to come for a visit and I am sure he would be gladly accepted at the College! Please let me know if you would like more information about the school or if you would like to plan a visit before hand! We love visitors and look forward to hearing from you!
      God bless!

      • Liza Beamish says:

        Hi Sarah!
        Great excitement here to receive your swift answer. So many questions we want answered!!! I haven’t contacted the registrar or headmaster officially yet – so some of my burning questions should probably be directed to him (her?) If everything proceeds as we hope, then we’d try to get over there for a visit, before Jeremy starts school. In which case, it would be a thrill to meet you. Jeremy would be a boarder, but we’re hoping that at various times, we can spend some time in the village, and if this were the case, would Jeremy be allowed to come home for weekends? I guess the biggest fear is Jeremy’s lack of french… We have just hired a tutor for him, but I doubt he’ll be able to catch up sufficiently in just over a year. Sadly, the standard of tuition in European languages in Australia is not always what one could hope for. Do all the boys speak French fluently? I will await your answers with bated breath. Meantime, we’ll keep making plans for our big adventure: Our oldest son, Ben, who will have just finished his schooling by then, will also accompany us, and plans to study classical guitar in Spain, which is where we will spend the majority of our time.
        Thankyou so much for finding time to reply,
        best wishes,

  2. Hello Liza!
    So sorry for the delay! First, all of our classes are taught in English! He can have a tutor for French but, yes, everything is in English! The boys go home often for weekends, some every weekend. With a smaller number of students we are able to accommodate on a personal level. The students learn French freely but there is no academic necessity. We have a wonderful program of music, plays (often Shakespeare), rugby, horseback riding, rowing plus all the traditional classes. We love this college and love living on campus so we are more than willing to help you and Jeremy find a “home away from home” at our school. Please do not hesitate to ask questions at any point! I will gladly put you in touch with anyone you wish at the College. And I am more than willing to continue our talks about the College! We would be thrilled to meet you and your son. Let me know whatever else you need!
    All the best and hope to see you soon!

    • Liza Beamish says:

      Hi Sarah,
      We have been in contact with Ferdi McDermott, the principle, and organised to come to Chavagnes en Paillers on October 15th/16th. Unfortunately Jeremy won’t be with me. As luck would have it, I had planned a trip to Europe 18 months ago with my (80 year old) mother. We leave in 2 weeks, and it is too good an opportunity to waste, so we will be making a rather big side-track to come to the school and see it for ourselves. I really hope I can meet you at the same time. Also, if possible, I’m hoping you might know whether its possible to catch a train from Nantes to Chavagnes – en – Pailers? Or should we catch a bus instead? We plan to stay in the village overnight in a hotel nearby and return to Nantes the following day to catch our plane.
      I’m really looking forward to seeing your part of the world, and I know my little camera phone will be working overtime, so that Jeremy can enjoy it all vicariously. As you can imagine, he’s pretty curious.
      Thanks again for all your help and kindness so far,
      Hopefully – see you soon!

      • Hi Liza!
        I have really taken too long to write back! We just returned to France a few days ago from the US, so with classing beginning and settling back in I have not been on the blog much! 🙂 But I am so excited that you and your mother will come for a visit! How wonderful. Perhaps I can host you for tea, if time allows, but I will of course be here and look very much forward to meeting you both! Also I’m not sure if the bus runs often enough from Nantes to Chavanges but I will looking into finding a ride or pick up for you both. I think that will be the best way. So I will be in touch and please don’t hesitate to contact me as often as you would like!
        See you soon and I’ll will be in touch!

      • Liza Beamish says:

        Hi Sarah,
        I looked into possibly taking the train to the neighbouring town and then a taxi to Chavagnes, but think it will not be convenient – or cost-effective. So, if the buses do not work out, at worst I can take a taxi from Nantes to Chavagnes (gulp – Do you think it will be horrendously expensive?)
        Anyway… One way or another, Mum and I will come to Chavagnes en Paillers on the 15th October. I really look forward to that cup of tea with you! (cuppa). All the best,


      • Hi Liza!
        Yes a taxi would be a lot! I spoke with our headmaster and the school would be very happy to pick you and your mother up from Nantes! Could you let us know the time and place from Nantes airport or train that you will arrive? And the time you arrive. Very much looking to see you and bring your camera!
        God bless,

      • Hi Liza,
        We are all looking so much forward to your visit on the 15th! I spoke with Ferdi, the headmaster, and we agreed that someone from the College should pick up you and your Mom in Nantes. There is a lovely French gentleman who works as the “driver” for the College and so he will be able to drive you here! Are you both coming by train or air? And also let me know time you arrive so that I can finalize and confirm everything. 🙂 We are very excited for the visit and a nice cup of tea!
        See you soon,

      • Liza Beamish says:

        Hi Sarah,
        I can’t tell you how grateful Mum and I are for your efforts on our behalf. We are really looking forward to meeting you and seeing the college.
        Our flight details are as follows:
        Tuesday October 15: AF7888 from Nice (Air France) Check in at 11.40 am. Arrive Nantes: 1.15 PM. (Flight takes 1 hr 35).

        We are in Sorrento at the moment. I didn’t expect it to be so hot. Autumn here is like summer where we live! So glad I didn’t drag Mum overseas in summertime. She’s 80 and would have found it quite challenging.

        I hope you have all the info. It’s very exciting for us, and I just wish Jeremy could have been here to see it too!
        All the best, and thanks again,

      • Hi Liza!
        We are so looking forward to seeing you and your mom tomorrow! We have your pick-up all arranged and I double checked that everything is in order! Your arrival was announced at the staff meeting this morning and everyone is very excited to meet both of you! Let me know if you have any last minute questions. Have a safe flight and I hope that you are enjoying your time in Europe! See you tomorrow
        All the best,

      • Dear Liza,
        I am so late in this reply! But I wanted to say that we were so happy to have you and your Mother visit our College. Both of you were so lovely and we talk of you often with the faculty! The tea was lovely and we hope you enjoyed your visit! I must tell you that “The Beamish Boys” have become a hit here at Chavanges and are the cause for much excitement! Looking so much forward to having Jeremy as one of our students. I will look this week into finding him a pen-pal, or email-pal!
        All the very best!
        p.s. here is our facebook page…

      • Liza Beamish says:

        Hi Sarah,
        Thrilled to get your email!! And likewise- sorry to be so tardy replying. I had lots of rehearsals on my return and a show last Friday (and arrived back with a dreadful cold). Going to Dubbo to sing in a show this weekend and the cold is finally receding so things are finally getting back to normal. I’ll stop making excuses and say what I want to say which is : THANKYOU!!
        It was great to meet you and your husband and your adorable little girls, and everybody else at the school. Mum and I were overwhelmed by the warm welcome we received especially as everyone had to “fit” us in between their usual busy schedules.
        I am convinced Chavagnes is the place for my young man. Now… If they would just change to tennis instead of rugby… Just kidding.
        I was grilled about my visit to the school by the whole family. Lucky I took so many pictures. Jeremy was quite taken by the idea of a pen pal (well these days I suppose you would call it “keyboard”pal!). I hope there is a boy there who might be interested?
        Anyway Sarah: THANKYOU again for the wonderful afternoon at your house. I hope there will be more cosy tea together in the future.
        Warmest regards,

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