Cartes postales du bagne

site visit #9. Collège d’Apatou

This week I was invited to talk to teachers at the high school in Apatou. Apatou is located about 45 minutes drive from Saint Laurent du Maroni or a couple of hours down the river by pirogue. The road to Apatou was only completed about ten years ago and the new school opened in 2015. The buildings are amazing and the views of the surrounding forest seemed impressive even after 3 weeks amongst the foliage in French Guiana. The students had already finished for the summer so the place was perhaps a bit quieter than usual.

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I spoke to teachers from French, English, History and Geography about the global phenomenon of penal heritage. Everyone was keen to talk about the wider culture of incarceration and there was some great discussion. They also told me about students had done at the Camp de la Forestière, further up the river. Camp de la Forestière is one of the camps where Vietnamese political prisoners were sent. We also talked about developing future teaching material around the theme of the bagne and setting up links with schools in Vietnam. I’m hoping to spend at least a few days back in Apatou when I come back to French Guiana next spring.

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