Gratitude on a Student Trip in a Paris Café

On our first trip with WorldStrides in 2008, we had some free time on our last day in Paris, so my colleagues Kari, Maureen, and I spent the afternoon in a café, writing personal notes to all of the students on the trip. We told them about how proud we were of them, how much we’d enjoyed watching them learn throughout of trip, and how much we’d enjoyed being with them.

Evy Johnson and her colleagues

That night, we ate at this tiny little restaurant in Le Marais. It was a beautiful meal and at the end we stood up and told them we had something special for them, gave them the notes we’d written, and told them about how proud we were. Then, to our surprise, one of the students got up and said, “Actually, we have something for you too,” and they had prepared cards and thank you’s. I was so touched by the depth of their gratitude. They got it! They understood how much this trip meant. It turned into this wonderful moment, with everyone hugging and crying and thanking each other. And we were a group of 36, so it went on and on! The whole time, there were people watching us at the glass; we had almost all the tables in this tiny restaurant and they were waiting to eat. We went over to apologize and they said, “No, no, please! It’s fine! This is beautiful and special and we are enjoying watching it.”

When we finally got up from the table, we spilled out into the street. There we were, walking through Le Marais arm-in-arm. There was so much crying – I remember two boys in particular were just puddles! And laughing. And hugging. It was this beautiful, perfect way to end our trip. It validated everything we do as educators. We still see some of those students regularly, and we always talk about the trip. It is truly a memory they’ll never forget.