Summer (Programs) in the City!

By Ryan Hipgrave; Assistant Director, Montreal Campus

Summer in Montreal is a special kind of season.

Festivals, food trucks, and sidewalk sales dominate the landscape as tourists and local folks alike flock to all the fantastic events the city has to offer. The pulse of the town vibrates under a bright sun that beckons all under it to grab a little piece of the excitement. If you haven’t been to Montreal in the summer, then you really need to come!

20160602_145105In the midst of all that action, Champlain Abroad hosted two Montreal-based programs in June. First, in partnership with the Division of Communication and Creative Media, The Montreal Summer Filmmaking Program was rolling, while at the same time the Montreal Summer Cultural Program invited its participants to learn about and explore the culture and history of Montreal, Quebec, and Canada.

Officially known as Urban Indie Filmmaking (FLM 389), the six credit film program welcomed students from Champlain, UMass Amherst, and Ohio Wesleyan. Set up as a workshop, the first week teacher Mark Slutsky guided students through a crash course in pitching story ideas and screenwriting. Once the projects were selected, the next 3 weeks were devoted to bringing those projects to the silver screen. The group of seven all worked on each other’s’ projects learning all aspects of film production.cinematography-workshop

Although much of the action happened at the Academic Center, the city itself served as both backdrop and inspiration, and Montreal proved to be a main character in each film, no matter the genre or style. Mark, who came to Champlain Montreal as an award-winning filmmaker and former film critic, introduced the students to myriad experts in the film business while also touring some of the city’s key filmmaking hubs, such as Mel’s Cinema City where Hollywood film are often produced.

Then came the big premiere! On the last night of the program, the students were joined by family, friends, staff, and faculty from Burlington in the CinemaSpace at the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts where their film were screened, followed by a Q & A session in which the audience got to hear more about their work and personal journeys of discovery while in Montreal. It was truly a night fit for a film festival!

Due to Montreal’s growing popularity as a study abroad destination, Champlain Abroad once again hosted its Summer Cultural Program. Offering two three-credit courses over the img_1246month of June, the Cultural Program is a great way for students to gain valuable CORE credits in a short time, whether they’re trying to get ahead or catch up.

This year, the courses on the menu were Montreal Food Writing (WRT 236) and Canadian/American Relations (HIS 415). In Montreal Food Writing, teacher Susan Semenak led students through a culinary exploration of Montreal’s uniqueness. Often meeting outside the classroom walls, the class visited culturally distinct neighbourhoods, urban markets, and one-of-a-kind restaurants, all with the aim of deepening their ability to describe their experiences on paper.

Consecutively, History teacher Jim Manson motivated students to investigate the special relationship between Canada and the United States by expanding their understanding of the history that our two nations have shared for the better part of three hundred years.

It would be an understatement to say that both programs were successful. Though tasked with a sizeable work load and high demands, each and every student rose to the occasion and excelled at meeting their objectives. All of them left the program and the city with a sense of personal growth, some new friends, and memories that will last far beyond the summer!