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St. John Valley culture, history and language to be subject of several special summer courses at UMFK

April 25, 2003


The unique Franco-American culture of the St. John Valley will be celebrated and explored through four special summer program offerings that will be presented by the University of Maine at Fort Kent in the coming weeks and months.

The courses, which range from a language immersion camp for youth to an Elderhostel program on local history and culture for more mature participants, are included in the most extensive summer session planned by UMFK in several years.

Valley residents and individuals interested in learning about the region's past will have the opportunity to study it from a slightly different perspective in a unique course which begins on May 12.

"Political and Economic History of the St. John Valley", will look at the most recent century and a half of regional and local history. The course will provide the American context of the Acadian experience and bring the Acadian aspect into a contemporary setting, taking into account historical background and environmental concerns.

The time period covered will be from the "Aroostook War" to present day, and topics explored will include land development patterns and lumbering versus agriculture. In addition, the course will follow political action and reaction of St. John Valley residents from the days of the barter economy through railroad and banking eras and on through the prohibition era politics to recent environmental concerns, tracking the Acadian situation through these experiences.

The three-credit class will be instructed by Guy Dubay, a well-known and well-respected local historian and genealogist, and former educator. It will run from May 12 until June 19, daily, Monday through Thursday, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.

In early July, a course focusing on the French Language will be offered for adults wanting to improve their understanding and fluency of the language.

French Review is a course designed for people who wish to improve their communication skills and grammar skills in French, and also for French teachers in the public school systems.

Participants will walk away with a better understanding of French grammar and language, better pronunciation, and better understanding of available literature in French/Francophone World.

The class will be instructed by Lise Pelletier the week of July 7 through 11, daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Following the adult course, Pelletier will be the lead instructor for two language camps for youth.

Children, ages six through ten, have the opportunity to participate in the popular "French Immersion Camp" for youth. Two sessions are planned this year, one in Fort Kent, one in Madawaska.

The Fort Kent camp will be held from July 21 through 25 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. The Madawaska camp will take place August 4 through 8 during the same hours.

Children will learn the basics in conversational French for everyday use appropriate to their age. Daily themes, use of games, songs, and hands-on creation of materials will be incorporated into camp activities.

The final cultural summer course offering will be designed for older adults and is part of the university's 2003 Elderhostel programming.

"History and Culture of the St. John Valley", will be held from August 24 through 29, and will look into the past of the northernmost corner of Maine, and how today's residents are keeping their heritage alive.

Participants will visit historical sites and speak with local experts on how the region was settled by Europeans, as well as learn about pre-colonial cultures. Other areas of focus will be the woodsmen and trappers, railroads, and vast potato fields.

Although the program is specifically designed for adults 55 and over, local residents under age 55 interested in taking the course should contact Don Eno in the academic outreach office at 834-7835 to register.

For more information on summer programming at UMFK or to register for a course, contact the registrar's office at (207) 834-7520 or toll free at 1-888-TRY-UMFK.