Monday, August 15, 2016

Learning about Language and Culture: Neuchâtel

Learning about Neuchâtel


A few years ago I went to Geneva Switzerland for a writing conference. I really liked the area but was more touched by the area of Neuchâtel. I now have a pen pal from the area. We have never met in person. Her husband Alan McCluskey is an author and my family spent the day with him during our first trip to Switzerland. However, I wanted to learn this week a bit more of her area.  Huguette and I have become close friends during the last three years. I have been practicing my French, I learned my colors, numbers, and a few greeting.

My friend Huguette was thrilled with my video of my simple French phrases to her. I hope to speak the language better so that we can Skype and one day I will go back.


My biggest mistake at the conference years ago was that I did not adventure out. I wish I would have visited more of the area that I have just learned about. Neuchâtel is rich with not only cheese but with many local artist. Creux du Van is one area that I did see but I would like to go again with Huguette. It is a canyon with hiking trails and panoramic views. The area also has a Gothic church and castle that Huguette and I wrote about. She often walks around the large lake and visits the many shops and outdoor markets. I also learned on my own research that Laténium Museum has 50'000 years of local history - modern presentation at the archaeological park and museum. This is amazing. I am sure Huguette will be able to tell me more. 

Click here for more photos that my husband took from the visit.
As for my French, I am not able to understand much. They speak very fast and I have found it difficult to understand. One greeting that the local area uses to say hello is Hihi.. This was really neat for me to see when a letter has arrived in the mail. I also like the artwork of the Swiss stamps and the different meals that Huguette eats. She even goes to a local mill for her grains when making bread. She eats mostly organic and meals are a longer experience than American meals. I hope as we deepen our friendship that I will learn more and that I will have the opportunity to visit Switzerland again.

I researched two people from Neuchatel, Switzerland.

The first person I researched was Jean Piaget. So many amazing people in the field of Psychology have come from Switzerland. Since this was my field of study in college. I was interested to learn more about Piaget. Piaget was known as a genetic epistemology (the origins of thinking).

What Piaget wanted to do was not to measure how well children could count, spell or solve problems as a way of grading their I.Q. What he was more interested in was the way in which fundamental concepts like the very idea of number, time, quantity, causality, justice and so on.

Much why he is known for being the first cognitive psychologist. He developed an early interest in natural history and by the age of 15 he had published several papers on mollusks.

He was educated at the University of Neuchatel where he majored in psychology.

Piaget earned his PhD in 1918 and he accepted a teaching post at a boys' school in Paris, France run by Alfred Binet. Binet developed the Binet Intelligence Test that is still in use today.I really enjoyed learning this about him. I always thought he was French not Swiss. 

The second person that I found that was interesting was Maurice Bavaud. He was also born in Neuchâtel on 15 January 1916 and executed at Plötzensee in Berlin on 14 May 1941.

He attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1938. He traveled to Germany on 9 October 1938, planning to shoot Hitler with a pistol. However, he did not fire because he was too far away from Hitler. The spectators in front of him denied him a clear view, by raising their hands in the Nazi salute. When he could not produce a train ticket for inspection, he was arrested and handed over to the Gestapo. At that moment, his firearm and compromising papers were found on him. Under torture, Bavaud finally admitted his assassination plans and was brought before the Volksgerichtshof. 

He was sentenced to death and guillotined. Could you imagine how brave he must have been? To stand up for his beliefs when so many were following Hitler. 

Oh and for fun. Here are a few more fun French phrases in case you get into trouble. “Je te jure! Je n’ai rien fait! (I swear, I didn’t do anything!) and Va savoir pourquoi!(“your guess is as good as mine!”) 

My french is slow and not very good, I am so grateful for Huguette and for all that she teaches me!

  ... as for my Language and Culture Merit badges..... 

“Ouais, t’inquiète pas, je te tiens au courant.” (Yeah, don’t worry, I’ll keep you up to date.)”


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