Paul Ward started as a Hospitality and Catering lecturer with City College Norwich in 1987, moving up to a Senior Lecturer post, he remained with the college for nearly 20 years.
Together with his colleague Ian Middleton, they planned and arranged the first ever cultural exchange trip, for the catering students, to Lycee Hotelier, Souillac in France – starting in 1993. This was to continue as an annual event for a further 15 years!
A long drive and a culture shock……
On the first exchange trip, the students were driven to Souillac, in the college mini-bus, and the journey took 2 days – sounds quite arduous!
Whilst the students who participated in this trip, had come from an environment with very high expectations and standards (the college hotel school was classed at one of the top five in the country), the trip still proved somewhat of a culture shock!
The students spent three weeks in France, first week being in the exchange college, then a week working in a restaurant, with the final week back in college.
They were doing 35 hour weeks, getting to grips with the different culture and language, a challenge for most of us without doubt!
Close Quarters………………life experiences!
The students all lived together for the duration of the exchange. They cooked and ate their meals and undertook all of their practical assignments together.
For a lot of the students this was the first time they had been out of the UK, so was, for many, a highlight of their life – would certainly have broadened their horizons and opened their eyes to the world and different opportunities.
They benefited from working with their opposite counterparts and experienced regional French food, going to the markets and buying their ingredients.
Champagne at the Town Hall, reception with the Lord Mayor!
As much as it was a first for our students, additionally it was a new experience for the townspeople of Souillac.
As part of their trip, the students prepared an English banquet, and were invited to the Town Hall for a champagne reception with the Lord Mayor!
It wasn’t all work and no play, as you can see from the photos they did go out and see some of the sights……
Memories of another trip….
Paul did recall another trip to France which is too good an anecdote not to share!
He took a group of students to France and hired a Gîte, we can’t elaborate on the year I’m afraid! But on this occasion they were living alongside the locals, each student took it in turns to procure the ingredients then cook a meal for the group. They built up a good rapport with the local residents and at the end of their trip they cooked up a meal for the village!
There is one student who sticks out in Paul’s mind, Joe Mulhall (now a Curriculum Programme Manager at the college), he used to play a transistor radio all day long driving Paul to despair! So much so, that in the end he grabbed the radio and threw it in a cornfield.
So, two points to this story, wear earphones to listen to your music and if you are ever walking in a French cornfield and happen across a transistor radio – please return to Joe!
Thank you Paul for sharing your memories.