Q&A: French teacher plans next summer’s trip


Louise Vouk

French Louise Vouk, second from the left, visits the Eiffel Tower with a group of students.

Mareike Tietjen, Guest Writer

In an exclusive interview, The Paw Print’s Mareike Tietjen sat down with Mrs. Louise Vouk to discuss the re-scheduled student trip for next summer.

Mareike: When are you going to Spain and France?

Vouk: Our trip is slated for June 8-20 in 2022.

Mareike: So is that something that you look forward to?

Vouk: I really look forward to this trip this time because it’s going to France and Spain, and it’s a little bit longer than my usual, so it’s going to be a new experience for me but I’m excited about it too.

Mareike: Who are you going with?

Vouk: Mr. Deaton, who is one of the Spanish teachers, and I decided to put this trip together, to put both countries on the trip, and we opened it up to any student and I think seventh grade and older who would like to go.

Mareike: Why did you choose to do seventh grade and older instead of just high school?

Vouk: Well, according to Explorica, which is the program we’re going through, they said anyone older than 7 I think, and the reason why we took it to be for 7th grade and older is that when things that kids would really get a good experience more at an older age than at a very young age. You know? If you have a 5-year-old with you, [he/she] is not going to be too interested in looking at [a] monument as much as he would like to be playing with his Legos.

Mareike: How will you get to Spain and France? When you are there how will you travel around?

Vouk: Usually we take a flight from Cleveland to another major city, and then that major city over to either France or Spain. I think this trip we are starting out in Spain, so we’ll fly to Spain, stay there and then we take a bus to Barcelona, and then from Barcelona to Paris, we take a high-speed train and when we are finished with our trip, we will take our flight back from Paris to Cleveland.

Mareike: So is flying something that you enjoy or is it something you’re maybe not looking forward to as a part of the trip?

Vouk: I have no problem flying! I do have a friend who is deathly afraid of it, and it’s really hard for me to understand that because I really don’t have a problem flying. I’ve been flying since I was probably nine years old and maybe that helps to just [learn] it from a young age.

Mareiken: Yeah, I’m sure that does make a difference. How long will you stay in each country?

Vouk: I think in Spain we’re actually there 7 days,  and France we’re in 6 days.

Mareike: Are you disappointed at all that you’ll be spending less time in France?

Vouk: No, I like both countries very well. I have not been to Barcelona yet, so that will be a new experience for me.  But it’s not the time that I spend in the country [because] it’s just the experience in general that I like so much!

Mareike: When are some other times you have gone on this trip?

Vouk: Well as I said before, this is the first trip that we’ve done France and Spain together, so this is totally new for us. In the past, I’ve taken a few trips just to France and those trips have been nine days, so different experiences but I don’t know why I just, I like the country so well that I’m excited [about] it!

Mareike: That’s a really good way to look at it I think.  So have you always loved to travel?

Vouk: [Yes!] When I was small, my father, my mother, my sister, and I, we traveled every summer. We went somewhere and usually, we can always make time to take a camper, and two times I remember we spent three weeks going out west in a camper, and we saw lots of the national parks, Yellowstone West, Yellowstone, Old Faithful in Yellowstone, just a lot of the, I want to say, the well-known things out West.

Mareike: That’s really cool!

Vouk: My dad loved to hunt and fish. Every vacation we had we had to do something with fishing, so I have learned to love fishing too, and I actually missed it ‘cuz I don’t do it too much anymore.

Mareike: What do you look forward to seeing again/revisiting?

Vouk: Oh gosh, you know? I haven’t seen [many] Spain’s monuments.  I guess it’s been a while. When I go to Spain, I just visit my friends. So we’re going to this one place, it’s called The Valley Of The Lost, I think, the Valley of the Fallen and it’s a huge huge huge huge cross that’s been cut out in the side of the mountain! So, I’m looking forward to seeing that again because last time I saw that I think was 1985.  In France, [I] always look forward to seeing the Eiffel Tower! I think it’s just such a neat structure, and what I really look forward to is eating my pain au chocolat.

Mareike: Is there any particular reason that you like seeing the Valley of the Fallen?

Vouk: It’s very peaceful. I hate using the word “awesome” the way it’s used now, but it is really truly an awesome sight to see, – that the cross is gargantuan, and just walking around there, I kind of get a sense of peace and it’s just very calming.

Mareike: What are some new things that you hope to see and try while you are there?

Vouk: The city of Barcelona – I have not seen that city yet, and my daughter studied there in 2018. [She sent] many pictures and it looks really pretty fascinating, so I’m looking forward to learning about Barcelona!

Mareike: Is there anything in France that you haven’t seen yet that you hope to see?

Vouk: No actually, I think everything that’s on our list to see, I have already seen, but that does not matter. I love to see the things, again and again, I never get tired of them!

Mareike: How do you think this trip will compare to prior trips with COVID-19, and it now being two countries?

Vouk: Well with COVID-19, I’m sure things will change and things will be different, especially since Spain and France are on the level four lockdown right at the moment. I have been in contact with friends in both countries, and you know, they just have to wait till everything starts opening up, and it will. It’s just going to take a little bit of time comparing the trip to prior trips again since it’s two countries is going to be longer, and I know that the kids will be definitely tired at the end, so I’m wondering how they will compare both countries and see which ones they like.

Mareike: So have you ever been on trips that have been two weeks or more before?

Vouk: [Yes, and] after a while you do get tired, so we just have to make sure that we give the students a little bit of free time too, so they can kind of do what they want to do.

Mareike: That’s all I’ve got for questions!  Thank you so much for your help!