Promoting peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation - one community, one individual at a time.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Kira in Deauville: 2021 Blog Post


Bonjour!   My name is Kira, and I graduated from Transylvania University in 2020 with majors in French and Anthropology and a minor in International Affairs… I’m the other half of (what is this year) the Deauville duo.  Wow, I can’t believe we’ve been here for over a month already!  The wait was indeed long, but Kelly and I are both so happy to finally be here. 

My first month here began with two weeks of vacation, which allowed ample time to get my bearings, settle in, and explore.  During our vacation, I was able to visit Caen, Rouen, Honfleur, Étretat, and Paris, as well as enjoy beautiful Deauville.  What began as a picnic on the beach one afternoon with Kelly and our new friend Ella has turned into a weekly ritual of walks along the beach.  We live a mere five minutes away, which as someone who has always resided in landlocked states, is still somewhat of a novelty!  Watching the sunset on the beach will never get old, I don’t think. :)

I already feel very at home here, greatly in part due to the warm welcome we have received.  Philippe and his family kindly invited us over to their home for a lovely family dinner, and we also had the pleasure of attending Deauville’s annual Dîner des Associations.  It was a joyful evening of food, drink, dance, and celebrating being together, which was touching to see particularly after the isolation and uncertainty we all experienced during the pandemic.


Our colleagues at the school have been kind and helpful, especially Ivan who has taken great care in helping us adjust and explaining all that we need to know, from the ins and outs of lesson planning to how to sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” (“L’Araignée gypsy”) in French!  With three weeks of classes now behind us, Kelly and I are settling into our routines.  Kelly teaches the older elementary school students here in Deauville, as well as driving each week to the neighboring St-Arnoult and Tourgéville to teach English classes there, while I teach the younger elementary school students, as well as the little ones at the maternelle and the nursery here. 


It’s been such a joy and an enriching challenge for me (as someone whose academic training is not in education) to teach such a wide age range on a daily basis, and I’m very grateful for Kelly and Ivan’s guidance, insight, and support.  The kids are so sweet, and it makes me happy when they see me and run up with hugs to ask if I’ll be coming for English classes… If I say, “No, not today,” their response is (adorably) one of disappointment and immediately asking when our next English class will be.  It’s incredible to see that, because of past TAs, the wonderful teachers here, and all the tireless work Ivan has done, the kids here already have such a positive association with language-learning at such a young age.  As someone who deeply appreciates languages and the human connection language-learning fosters, it’s a gift to be able to be a part of something like that here. . 


As Kelly mentioned in her last post, Halloween here was quite special!  After such a memorable celebration, I was excited to come up with ways to teach Thanksgiving.  Some students here had never heard of Thanksgiving, and we discussed that it is a holiday to give thanks and spend with family.  I showed them pictures of my family celebrating Thanksgiving together last year and used food vocabulary, such as pumpkin pie and turkey, to teach about Thanksgiving traditions and to practice saying “I like” / “I don’t like.”  One of the amazing teachers here even baked a pumpkin pie to celebrate with his students!  Kelly and I had a nice, little celebration here at the house.  I am grateful to know Kelly and consider myself very lucky to have her as my housemate and fellow teaching assistant.



The Christmas season is now upon us, Deauville is decorated, and our vocabulary has shifted to words like “present” and “reindeer.”  In the next two weeks before les vacances de Noël, we will be writing letters to Santa to practice “I would like,” writing Christmas cards to family, reading Christmas stories, and listening to Christmas carols.  I’m looking forward to sharing the joys of the season with my new friends and colleagues and seeing what the New Year brings.  Joyeuses Fêtes à toutes et à tous et à bientôt…



Friday, October 29, 2021

Kelly in Deauville: 2021 Blog Post


After a long year of delayed visas, false starts, and anxious  waiting, Americans assistants are back in Deauville! My name is Kelly, I’m a 2020 graduate of the University of Kentucky with a master’s degree in French and francophone studies and I couldn’t be happier to finally be in Deauville alongside my fellow teaching assistant, Kira, after accepting a position with the sister cities program in February 2020. 

I arrived to Deauville last week after almost 24 hours of travel featuring planes, trains, and automobiles. My first week was spent shadowing Ivan, who has been teaching English at all levels with the 18 month absence of assistants, and getting the lay of the land at the elementary school in Deauville, along with brief visits to the schools in St. Arnoult and Tourgéville. It’s so cool to see how young English lessons start in the city. Our visit to the crèche (nursery school) was particularly fun; I loved singing the itsy-bitsy spider with French toddlers! 

Of course, it’s October, and no English lesson could be complete without an in-depth discussion of Halloween. We practiced Halloween vocabulary and sang Halloween songs. I discussed my perspective on how Halloween is celebrated in America, including the logistics of trick-or-treating (and that in the U.S., the emphasis is really on the treat!). We also discussed what the students were going to be for Halloween, with witches, vampires, and superheroes being the most popular choices. 

On Friday, October 22nd, Kira and I helped at the city Halloween party. Staff from the elementary school turned the Villa Strassburger (a historic mansion close to the racetrack in Deauville) into a haunted house with a psychiatric hospital theme for the city’s children. Kira and I were given the assignment of scaring visitors to the below-ground bunker built by the Germans when they occupied the villa during World War II. As firm believers in the cute, whimsical side of Halloween over the scary, Kira and I were a little hesitant, but we gamely embraced the role of haunted doctor and nurse. We got a few scares in but also quite a few “C’est les américaines! Hello, Kira! Hello, Kelly! You didn’t scare me!” 

We are now on les vacances de la Toussaint and don’t have school for the next two weeks. We will work with Ivan during the break to plan out our lessons for after the break and to get a better understanding of the French school system in general.  I’m looking forward to exploring Deauville and the surrounding area during the vacation, as well as going to my first practice with the local women’s soccer team. I can’t wait to see what these next 10 months in Normandy have in store! 

À la prochaine, 


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Fall into Autumn with Lexington Sister Cities: September 2021 Blog


Happy September from Lexington Sister Cities!
We have several programs and events this fall that we are excited to share with you!

Monday, September 13, 2021

Halfway to St. Patrick's Day Silent Auction


Although we were looking forward to our in-person Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day Event and Silent Auction event at O'Neill's, we felt as though we had to make the necessary decision to cancel. We are instead holding a virtual Silent Auction in its place. We have a lot of great items to bid on that we are very excited about! Donated items include things such as hand-carved wood pieces, carefully selected gift baskets, gift cards to local Lexington businesses, and so much more. As of today, there are only FOUR days left until it is time to bid!

Bidding starts on Friday, September 17th at 12 PM EST and ends Monday, September 20th at 12 PM EST.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021


Summer at Sister Cities

Projects & Programs

The 9th Annual Lexington Sister Cities Golf Scramble

We held our annual Golf Scramble on Monday, June 14th at Kearney Hill Golf Links. We had clear skies overhead when our 16 teams began with a shotgun start at 9:00am. A big thank you to Christopher Boysel at Kearney Hill for helping us put on this event, and to all of our teams, sponsors, volunteers, and donors! A special thank you as well to Nothing Bundt Cakes and Raising Cane’s for their participation in the event, and to Kentucky Utilities for their ACE Sponsorship! We want to congratulate Alpha Financial Partners on their big win!

The 33rd Annual Lexington Sister Cities Young Artists & Authors Competition 

Although this summer is unusual, without the hustle and bustle of student exchanges, Lexington Sister Cities has been busy working on projects to broaden our impact; and this year, the 33rd Annual Sister Cities Young Artists & Authors Competition had a large amount of submissions, despite the competition being completely virtual! Sofia Raab from Frederick Douglass won the Local Young Artists Competition sponsored by Central Bank & Trust Co. and received a $250 cash prize. Additionally her teacher, Jason Sturgill, was awarded prize money to be used for classroom supplies by Lexington Sister Cities. The local winner of the Young Authors Competition was Maya Davis from Tates Creek Middle School. All of our finalists in each of the six categories, art, photography, literature, poetry, original music, and reinterpreted music, were sent on to the International Competition. We wish them all luck!

Cook with us! 

Recipe by Mary Parlanti 

Peach Crisp

29-ounce can sliced peaches (or use fresh peaches)

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar 

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder 

1 egg

1/3 cup melted butter 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain peaches and pour into an 8-inch baking dish. Sift flour, sugar, salt

 and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Add egg and mix with fork until crumbly. Spread over peaches

 and drizzle butter evenly over the top. Bake about 40 minutes until evenly browned. Serve warm with

 ice cream or whipped cream. Serves 8. 

Fast Facts 

Deauville holds a population of 8,000 through the winter; in the summer however, the

 population swells to over 100,000. With its beautiful beaches, horse racing, and the casino,

 tourists flock to this quaint town to experience truly a world of elegance and leisure.

During the warmer months, Newmarket hosts their popular Summer Saturday Racedays! This

 years summer Saturdays are July 24th & 31st, and August 7th, 14th, & 28th. The beautiful

 July Racecourse is prefect for friends and family wanting to savor the buzz of horseracing

 with its vibrant atmosphere and a whole host of themed days for visitors to enjoy. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021


"May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow, and may trouble avoid you wherever you go." - Irish Blessing    

Cook with us!

Recipes by Mary Parlanti

Irish Soda Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease two 8-inch cake pans. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. 
Whisk buttermilk, butter and egg in a small bowl. Add to dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Knead mixture briefly in bowl until dough comes together. Turn out onto floured surface and knead until smooth, about 2 minutes. 
Divide dough into 2 pieces. Shape each into a round loaf and transfer to prepared pans. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross on the surface of each loaf, about 1/2-inch deep. Bake about 50 minutes, or until tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on racks. 

Irish Brown Bread

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 handful wheat germ or wheat bran
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, bran, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add buttermilk, honey, and olive oil. Mix again until well blended. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Pat oats into top of dough. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool. If desired, toast and serve with butter and marmalade or jam. 

Fast Facts

Leprechauns Are Likely Based on Celtic Fairies

The red-haired, green-clothed Leprechaun is commonly associated with St. Patrick’s Day. The original Irish name for these figures of folklore is “lobaircin,” meaning “small-bodied fellow.” Belief in leprechauns likely stems from Celtic belief in fairies— tiny men and women who could use their magical powers to serve good or evil. In Celtic folktales, leprechauns were cranky souls, responsible for mending the shoes of the other fairies.

The Shamrock Was Considered a Sacred Plant

The shamrock, a three-leaf clover, has been associated with Ireland for centuries. It was called the “seamroy” by the Celts and was considered a sacred plant that symbolized the arrival of spring. According to legend, St. Patrick used the plant as a visual guide when explaining the Holy Trinity. By the 17th century, the shamrock had become a symbol of emerging Irish nationalism.

Our Book Recommendation

How to Catch a Leprechaun

You've been planning night and day, and finally you've created the perfect trap with shamrocks, pots of gold, and rainbows galore! Now all you need to do is wait. Is this the year you'll finally catch the leprechaun? Start a St. Patrick's Day tradition with this fun and lively children's picture book and get inspired to build leprechaun traps of your own at home or in the classroom!

Find a copy of the book here!

Tourist Attraction

Since the mid-1990s, the Irish government, in part to promote tourism and boost the economy, has sponsored a multi-day St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin, featuring a parade and a variety of performances and activities; there are similar events in other sections of the country as well. Our Sister City in County Kildare is no exception! There are parades held in Athy, Castledermont, Celbridge, Clane, Kilcock, Kilcullen, Leixlip, Maynooth, Monasterevin, and Newbridge! And across the pond, many cities in America celebrate with a parade as well, including Lexington!