May 11, 2015

A Night at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées

When was the last time you took advantage of WICE’s numerous member benefits? As the spring semester draws to a close, we’d like to point out a few not-to-be-missed deals available exclusively to WICE Members.

Fans of classical music, rejoice!  At the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, the end of the season does not mean a shortage in œuvres.  Instead, the theatre is busy most days a week hosting recitals, ballets, concerts, and operas.  What better place to take in the Philadelphia Orchestra’s version of Brahms, Beethoven, and Strauss than in a French National Monument?  The building itself is one of few in France to be constructed in the style Art Deco.  Its plain, reinforced concrete appearance shocked the French public, who was unused to such architecture during the time construction was completed in 1913. 

Countless classical music acts have set foot inside the vast auditorium.  Karl Boehm, Pierre Boulez, Claude Debussy, William Christie, Charles Münch, to name a few chefs d’orchestre.  The world’s largest orchestras have graced the halls – France, Vienna, Berlin, Cleveland, Boston, and Saint Petersburg.  As for the chanteurs, Luciano Pavarotti, Cecilia Bartoli, Natalie Dessay, Roberto Alagna, and José van Dam do not even begin to scratch the surface.

Want to know more?  Hop over to the Théâtre’s blog, where they feature articles on what goes on backstage two hours before showtime, interviews with artists, and much more.

So what’s left of this season?  How can one get their dreamy night-at-the-opera inside this Monument Historique?  

27 May: Philarmonia Orchestra. WICE Members purchasing tickets get 30% reduction. Ticket prices are 59€, 45€, 31€, 21€ instead of 85€, 65€, 45€, 30€

19 – 20 May: Russell Maliphant Company. WICE Members purchasing tickets get 15% reduction. Ticket prices are 47€, 35€, 25€, 17€ instead of  55€, 42€, 30€, 20€

30 May: Philadelphia Orchestra. WICE Members purchasing tickets get 30% reduction. Ticket prices are 66€; 51€; 38€; 21€; instead of 95€; 74€; 55€; 30€

1 June: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. WICE Members purchasing tickets get 30% reduction. Ticket prices are 66€; 51€; 38€; 21€ instead of 95€; 74€; 55€; 30€

Reservations* available by telephone, Monday – Friday, 11h00 until 18h00 – 01 49 52 50 50, or by visiting the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées ticket box with the code, open Monday – Saturday, 12h00 until 19h00.  Call WICE Front Office for the code at 01 49 66 75 50

*Offer based on seat availability. Not to be used in conjunction with other coupons, promotions, or offers.

April 24, 2015

2nd International Forum on Domestic Violence

Please join us for this upcoming informational session to raise the general awareness about domestic violence:

This Thursday evening, May 7, a WICE-sponsored event, the 2nd International Forum on Domestic Violence for the English speaking community will take place at the American Church of Paris.  It has been organized by WICE volunteer and Board member, Jill Bourdais (read here for more info about Jill) whose other volunteer commitment is to women who are being or who have been abused in their partner relationships.

Some 40 English speaking women have attended her free victim support group meetings over the past few years.  Recent official statistics estimate that one out of ten women in France is subjected to domestic violence, and some 170 of those are killed per year by their abusers. Many abused women are fearful of pressing charges, and this informational forum will focus on what actually happens when women try to use the justice and social systems to get help for themselves.  Several lawyers, a court-approved psychologist, the head of a shelter, and possibly a judge will be among the panelists.

The event is free, but registration is requested at:

Time:           6:30 -10 p.m. 
Date:           Thursday, May 7, 2015

Location:    American Church of Paris
                    65 Quai d’Orsay ,75007 Paris

For more information, please read: 2nd International Forum on Domestic Violence.

April 20, 2015

Mixing Pleasure and Business

One week in sunny April, I was invited to attend WICE's French 1 Beginner language course.  Below is my experience as a student for a day with Muriel Lunetta.

Among countless of French classes in the nation’s capital, how does one choose? There are countless of things to consider: size of class, costs, level, and certification, not to mention the humanistic criteria that can’t help but creep into one’s psyche whenever signing up for something new and unfamiliar. 
Although usually classified as “secondary criteria”, these “humanistic” metrics tend to be the most defining characteristic of our experiences and manage to define whether or not we repeat an action.  Have you ever gotten a negative vibe from walking down a street in Paris?  When this happens to me, I seldom return to it, and if I do, it’s months after this has happened.
Personally, I yearn for comfort, friendliness, and a generally welcoming atmosphere whenever walking into something new – a job, a class, or a party.  Meeting Muriel Lunetta at WICE’s French 1 Beginners course left nothing to be desired.  Last week, I attended her class as a special guest.  It was equipped with five chipper and keen students, one professor, patient yet commanding of her craft, and workbooks and textbooks.
From the moment I walked in, jokes were flying and the ladies were exchanging pleasantries.  I felt as if I was at a social event!  Muriel turns every question into both an educational experience as well as a practice in self-reflection.  She pushes each student to speak in French, no matter their level, and patiently corrects them if need be. 
I have attended my fair share of French courses, in Paris and various other cities.  The care of personal attention that I witnessed in WICE’s French course was unparalleled.  Each person in the class was familiar with the others, which explains why students were keen to help each other out. 

Social aspects aside, it is worth nothing the instructor’s capabilities.  Muriel Lunetta earned her Master’s in Arts in French as a Foreign Language from none other than the Sorbonne.  She boasts more than twenty years in foreign language teaching experience. When searching for a way to practice your French in a convivial, approachable ambiance, look no further than WICE. 

WICE offers a range of language courses as well as French-English conversation groups, year-round, at every level and background. Find out more about the WICE Language Department here.

April 13, 2015

From Volunteer to Student: An Inside Look at Make-Up of the Femme Fatale

As a WICE Volunteer, Brandi Lunn tells us about her experience of switching hats from Visual Arts Program Director to student in one of WICE's Make-Up courses.

Visual Arts Director
Brandi Lunn
My original purpose of joining WICE was to meet people. I was new to the city and without much of a social circle and I had yet to master the French language. When I stumbled upon WICE, I had hoped that it would offer me an opportunity to make some new friends and speak English amongst them.

At the time (I joined WICE at the end of April 2014), many of the courses were winding down for the summer. While I was jotting down ideas of classes that I hoped to take in the fall, I noticed Volunteer section and sent in an application and hoped for the best.

Photo by Brandi Lunn
What many potential volunteers may not know is that the path to securing a role within WICE is a long one. Once your application is received you attend an orientation meeting. Next, you meet with the Director of the department you’re interested in volunteering with. Finally you meet with the rest of the team to learn more about the responsibilities of the role and how your skills will compliment the organization. By the time you’re officially crowned ‘New Volunteer’ you’ll have already met a large number of amazing colleagues along the way. You’ll also be so busy excitedly exploring the facets of the role and getting down to work that your original dreams of taking a course at WICE seems to fade away… at least that’s what happened to me.

April 6, 2015

Guest Blogger Series: Learn How to Make the Most of Picturesque Paris

As part of its Guest Blogger Series, WICE welcomes Member and Volunteer Isabella Grepp to share her experience in the Cultural Studies Department’s Online Communications Workshop series.

I was invited to spend an afternoon with one of our newest courses here at WICE, the “Smart Devices as Tools of Creative Expression” series. From these seminars, participants discover how to maximize the use of their smart phone and its camera.

Living in a foreign country is a special experience, something to remember throughout a lifetime.

My great aunt lived in a large number of countries during her younger years. Today, she is close 90 years old, but she still tell us tales of being an ambassador’s wife in places such as Libya, Hong Kong, Nigeria and many more. What if she had the same opportunity of sharing her special moments and beautiful views as we do today? To think of how many of those beautiful memories would be lost forever the day she is no longer with us!

In today's technological society, we have the option to capture that beautiful sunrise we see through our Parisian window every morning; instantly capture a once-in-a-lifetime moment you pass on the street; even share our everyday lunch! What is even more amazing is that we can instantly share them with our loved ones we left back home, and they can share familiar moments of their lives. Today, we are lucky in that we don't lose our memories and what we loved.

The problem many of us have is that all this new technology is still quite foreign to us. It’s a jungle of different phones out there, all with many different functions and applications; and having to dig into and learn all this can see quite daunting.

This is where Nancy Jochimek and Alastair Arthur come in. Nancy has a long background in communications, including social media, public relations and branding. She is a strong believer in the new ways of communication and wants to help people learn how easy it can be to share their memories using everyday tools. Alastair Arthur is a world-renowned portrait photographer and his work has been featured on the front page of Fuji X magazine. Armed with knowledge in both photography technology and art, together, they form a strong team.

We started the course by meeting at the WICE Office in the 15th, close to metro La Motte Picquet Grenelle. We were a decent size group composed of all different nationalities and time spent in Paris. It is quite funny and different to see my classmates with their phones in their hands, as it is usually something that is forbidden in class. But in Nancy and Alastair’s class, it is all about the phone. We go through all the different functions of Instagram – the filters, their names and how they can be used. “What was the best funcion of ‘Earlybird’ again?”

Alastair then presents us the challenges of the day: He has made a 4-level challenge, where only the truly brave will reach level four.
1. Take a selfie with a creative touch.
2. Take a photo of someone else
3. Take a candid street photo of someone else
4. Ask to take a street portrait of a stranger.

We then exchange numbers as we plan on splitting up into two groups – one for a more general overview with Nancy and one more advanced together with Alastair. But first we head over to the metro and travel to the famous Bir Hakeim bridge. It is a grey and windy day and we wander across the bridge together, taking many photos of both the surroundings and ourselves. Selfies are a must at a location like this!

After half an hour we eventually split up into smaller groups of five, where I tag along with Alastair and the other lovely ladies. We walk across the bridge to Passy, where you have beautiful architectural views of homes as well as over the Eiffel Tower and the Seine. Here we met a professional photographer and he was happy to stand model for us as he worked. We also experimented with different angles and shapes of photos as a way to capture what we want to show the most in a picture.

As our ears started to turn red from the cold wind, we slowly started to walk back towards the 15th and Beaugrenelle. On our way there we passed the tiny Île aux Cygnes and The Statue of Liberty.
We met the other group at a café and discussed our photos of the day. Over tea and coffee, we shared what we had learned of the different photo editing apps you can download to your phone . Alastair recommended Snapseed and Tinttype. The first is a version of Photoshop, made for smartphones by Google, and can help you edit your photos in more ways than Instagram on its own. The later imparts a vintage feel to your photographs, making them more personalized.

Overall it was a great day and the students took many beautiful photos, most of which can be seen on Instagram under #wiceparis. There will probably be another workshop series starting again before the summer. They’re not to be missed!

March 30, 2015

This Spring, get a glimpse into the Beehive

WICE has earned the reputation for exemplary, professional classes held at a collegiate level, and rightly so!  We spoke with Jan Olsson, an instructor in the WICE Visual Arts Department, to highlight one of our many gifted instructors, as well as provide a glimpse into their lives outside the classroom!

"You just play," she tells me.  Armed with flowers, feathers, linen, or old scraps of clothing, students gather around the "Queen Bee," Jan's printing press, like children on Christmas morning.  "It's a fun process because you never know what's going to happen on the press.  Everyone gathers around it and holds their breath when we peel back the paper to reveal the finished product," Jan Olsson informs me as we stand peering at Queen Bee inside her studio at La Ruche.

In French, "La Ruche" simply means "Beehive."  Over time, more than 100 other studios were built to resemble it.  What sets apart this hive from the others is its maker: La Ruche was designed by Gustave Eiffel.  This artist's colony is a circular structure, three levels high with 24 studios that take the shape of wedges. 

March 27, 2015

Creating Travel Journals - an Inside Look

Daniel Smith, WICE's Director of Programs, has switched hats and shares his experience as a WICE student in Jan Olsson's course Creating Travel Journals.   In his own words, Daniel give us an inside look at this drawing class:

How I learned to make mistakes and gained creativity in my Travel Journal

Image by Daniel Smith

When I bought my first Travel Journal, Sketchbook or Carnet de Voyage, I marveled at the white, empty pages of heavy paper that begged to be written with a fountain pen and thick black ink. Although I had been living in Paris for several years, my dream was to sit in a corner café with a travel book and write, sketch and capture the moment for all to experience.

Image by Daniel Smith
At our first class of a half dozen WICE Members and our WICE Instructor, artist Jan Olsson, we learned to test our pens and markers on scratch paper. Using scissors we cut patterns of our lines and circles to glue onto pages. We wrote descriptions and stories of life in Paris. “Hey, this is easy,” I said; there was no drawing or complexities.

Based on a demonstration by Jan, I could not wait to buy markers of black, gray and light gray to create the illusion of distance and depth. Once I found the markers, I started a Paris city-scape on the inside cover and facing first page.  Easy. Just as Jan explained I used dark in the foreground and lighter greys in the middle and background and quickly my city-scape was finished! But when I turned the page, to my horror, I realized that the ink had bled through the first page onto the second. My new travel journal was already permanently ruined.