At the start of the 2017 school year, I auditioned for a French choir, Les Étoiles. Thankfully I was accepted along with 11 other kids. Throughout the school year, we practiced, rehearsed, and performed around the city to get ready for our big debut in Newfoundland, Canada. We were going to perform at a festival called Podium during the summer of 2018. This festival invited choirs from everywhere to come and sing and Les Étoiles received an invitation.
After months and months of singing and raising money, we were able to start planning our trip to this amazing place. We started speaking to the students that were at the school because some would host us in their homes. The school was called L’École des Grand Vents and I was so excited. We were planning our trip to Newfoundland and our host families began preparing for our stays and excursions.
Newfoundland is not an easy place to fly to from Lafayette, Louisiana so at 1:00am on June 26, 2018, the choir and their families met at the SuperOne grocery store parking lot and the choir and chaperones got on a school bus and drove the three and a half hours to the Houston airport. On the bus ride, almost everyone was sleeping. Once we arrived at the airport, our chaperones gave us a quick talk on what the plan was, and how we were going to get everything done. As we waited for our flight, we were all thinking on how great an opportunity this was going to be. We were so excited!
Our first flight was simple. It brought us to Toronto, Canada. But there was one hard part—probably the hardest—getting 16 people through customs. After we were able to get through security, we boarded our plane with no problems. As our last plane landed in St. John’s, we all looked out the plane’s small windows. It was a little dreary and foggy, but it was so beautiful. We rushed out the plane to find our host families waiting for us outside. They cheered for us as we got there. I could see that they were just as excited as we were!
Once all the kids were able to find their families, we could go home with them. I was with a nice family with my friend, Roxanna. Madeleine was the girl hosting us along with her little sister, Claire, and her mom and dad. They live in a beautiful home in a cute little town called Paradise. Because of the time difference, it was very late in Newfoundland and we were tired from our long day of traveling. Once we arrived at their home, Madeleine gave us a tour and then we went to bed.
The next day I went to school with Madeleine. Their school had a choir and we would be singing with them in a big concert performance for Podium. We practiced with them that afternoon just before their school day ended. That evening my host family gave Roxanna and I a tour of their town. We also went to a famous spot called Signal Hill that was used as a fort during World War II, and we also went to see one of their beautiful beaches.
The next day was the night of the big performance with L’École des Grand Vents. We practiced and practiced until it was time to get ready. It was a little scary seeing so many people watching us, but many had come for this small choir from Louisiana. We sang first, then the school choir sang, then we all sang together. Not only did we do great, we had so much fun!
We celebrated our big success that night, but it was sad because it was almost time to leave our families.
The next day we took a visit to Ferryland, a beautiful town that overlooks the ocean. We performed at Ferryland then we sat by the cliff and enjoyed the view. Then I received a big surprise. My dad and my younger sister arrived! Since my mom was a chaperone, my whole family was there! My host family had invited them to come for dinner and we had sweet and sour moose meat. It was delicious!! Sadly, that night was our last night with our host family.
That next morning, our host family drove Roxanna and me to the meeting spot and we said our goodbyes. We had a small performance and presentation at the conference part of Podium so we rehearsed in the back of a church. After our presentation, we returned to the church for a snack. We had bags of chips and water. We were all relaxing a bit loudly and joking until my mom told everyone to freeze. What we didn’t realize was that there was a group performing next door! We quickly left and laughed at our mistake. That evening we went to the symphony. It was amazing! The first performance was Nordic Light and they used glasses of water to create music. After, was a children’s choir from Indonesia–they were fantastic! Finally, three male singers from Sweden, Solala, performed and they used kitchen utensils to make music. All of it was very entertaining.
Our trip was coming to an end, but we still had lots to do. First thing the next morning we had a performance at a small bakery. Then we had free time, and we all used it to buy souvenirs for ourselves and family. Before the sun was going to set, we went to an outside concert called Float. During this concert, we were led by a guide who would walk the group through the woods to a re-enactment of different scenes in a story. There, a choir would sing and tell the story. There were performers from Iceland, Sweden, and even those from the Inuit culture. It was so beautiful and like nothing I had ever seen. That night from our hotel we watched the fireworks for Canada Day!
Even though we loved it in Canada, there’s no place like home. Throughout the two planes and the long bus ride home, we all talked about our favorite times on the trip—and there were a lot of those. To this day, one year later, we still tell everyone about our adventures in Newfoundland. I don’t think we could ever forget the beautiful place that welcomed us and gave us our international singing debut.
“La vie a plein d’ adventures, les prendres.”
(Life is full of adventures, take them.)
Isabella Anderson is twelve years old and loves the following: basketball, traveling, the months of November and December and guinea pigs. She lives in Scott, LA with her parents, Timmy and Kristi, younger sister, Harper, a cool cat Oliver, and her guinea pig, Nibbi. Bella is fluent in French and is currently in middle school.
Harper Oliver by Harper E. Anderson
I drew this cat and then painted it with acrylic paint. It reminds me of my grumpy cat, Oliver. But Oliver would never be this still.
Harper is ten years old and continues her love of the French language and art. She now helps her teacher with art camps for all ages. She lives in Scott, LA with her sister, Isabella, parents, Timmy and Kristi, and her favorite pal, Oliver, her Persian cat.