July 7, 2017

THE WICE BILINGUAL BOOK GROUP: BETTER THAN EVER

Dear Readers. Consider the attractions of a free monthly book club for WICE members, from all over the world, with the occasional appearance of some of the authors at the meetings!  
You can avail of this and many other WICE activities by joining up for half-price at our next Open House at a great new venue (only 25 euros!), 28 rue du Pont Louis Phillipe in the 4e, 19 September 2017 – put that in your agenda!
Catherine Field
The Bilingual Book Group has enjoyed a major makeover this past year with international journalist Catherine Field, from New Zealand, and Canadian photographer Tracey Bennewies taking charge.  They revamped the Books Group’s webpage and got their own email address.  Regular attendance doubled to its current limit of 10 people, with a second group possible as demand warrants.  Another innovation?  They brought in coffee and tea to make the meetings more convivial.
Tracey Bennewies
“It’s amazing that something as simple as bringing in hot drinks would change the atmosphere so much,” says Catherine Field, who appreciates most the cosmopolitan nature of the club.  “We have people from the US., India, Ireland and France, some with expat and military experiences in Algeria or Beirut.  The different international perspectives make this book club very special.”
Here’s how it works: books on the reading list must be published in English and in French, and members read the monthly book and discuss it in their preferred language, under the guidance of a team of moderators. Members suggest books for the reading list, which is devised at the start of the year. Catherine worked incredibly hard vetting the books reading about 40 to see if they were the best 10 for the club, with help from partner Tracey who Catherine describes as “a real bookworm.”  

June 6, 2017

A WICE Writing Teacher Wins Another International Prize

Jamaican author and journalist Alecia McKenzie has just won a second prize for her first novel, after Commonwealth accolades for her short stories. 
Sweetheart (Trésor in French) has been awarded the 2017 Prix Carbet des Lycéens. It’s a literary competition, judged by French-Caribbean high school students, to highlight the best writing by authors from the entire Caribbean region.
“I was moved and honored that the book was chosen by students, although I’d previously considered it a work for the over-16s,” says Alecia.  “It touches on heavy themes including death and incest which require a certain maturity.  It’s about a Jamaican artist who dies in unclear circumstances, and the reader learns about her life from people who knew her, and who talk about her.”
Through the different narratives, readers learn, among other things, about the life of the artist’s Jewish grandfather. Jamaican-Jewish?  “Yes, there’s a sizable community of people whose ancestors were Jewish in Jamaica. My primary school was near one of the oldest synagogues in the region.”
On the importance of the setting, Alecia says: “This is an essential element of storytelling.  If I didn’t tell the truth about the setting, I would feel I were betraying readers, my country.  How can you write about a place if you don’t know the setting?  It has to be authentic. I try to put that across when teaching my students short-story writing at WICE”

May 12, 2017

Close Up on a WICE Street Photography Course


Meredith © Lauren Gezurian-Amlani
Now’s your chance to snap and chat with WICE photography pro, Meredith Mullins.

In her upcoming 4-session Exploring Course, she’ll take you to some of the most photogenic places in Paris.

Each session begins with essential photo tips in a café of the chosen neighborhood.  Then students are sent out with a choice of assignments that equate to “purposeful wandering.”  Afterwards, they gather in a specially chosen restaurant for a review of their images.  With Meredith’s techniques, you’ll move from selfies to artistic self-expression in no time!

“There’s nothing like the beauty of Paris as a backdrop. As I turn every corner I feel lost in time. I want all my students to be inspired by the city, and communicate through images what they’re thinking or feeling, and what they’re attracted to,” Meredith explains.

“It always amazes me that the members of our group can be wandering the same streets during the same few hours and, yet, the resulting photographs are totally unique. Everyone has a unique style, and sees the quartier a little bit differently.  That is what the art of photography is all about.”
The swan: © Nola Erhardt

“We also have a great heritage in the city,” she continues. “We can’t forget we’re walking in the footsteps of the iconic 20th  century Paris street photographers, such as Cartier-Bresson, Ronis and Doisneau, who famously said, “The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.

Some students might be timid about photographing people, but Meredith helps them get over it.

“People might be the most interesting subjects, so they have to be in the repertoire, and sometimes I give the assignment of finding interesting characters in the streets. But I might also assign the theme of water in its different forms, depth perspective, motion, or lighting techniques. The group choses what to work on before we meet up again to see and discuss the results as a class.”

Rain Reflections: © Eva Ferziger 

April 30, 2017

Why Not YOU for the WICE Board of Directors?

Calling all WICE members to step up and volunteer, and why not start at the top? Nominations are under way now for the Board! Join now to help steer us into the future…

There are ten people at the helm, directing such areas as Programs, Marketing, Finance, Volunteers, Facilities, “Upstairs at Duroc,” and the Paris Writers Workshop, as well as governing the organization.

Veronica Pollard is the Board leader in charge of growing and maintaining membership.

In 2013, she had no idea when her plane from New York hit the tarmac in Paris for a dream retirement that she would participate in the French-English conversation groups at WICE and end up on the Board.

“Our WICE members come from countries on six continents, but especially the US, UK, Australia, and of course France. Recently, we have been inviting members to small informal gatherings at the home of WICE President Mary Sipper to get a better understanding of the areas of strength for WICE and what needs improving. Many seem to want us to have a more social presence and offer opportunities for friendship. So that has become part of our vision going forward.”