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Journalism class research project linking Morganville to Fèves, France, results in special trip

Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016


From left, Gérard Torlotting, Fèves, France; Fèves Second Assistant Deputy Mayor Cyrille Crast; Charlotte and Brent Rundell, Morganville; Francis Pracht, Fèves; Fèves Mayor René Girard; and Art Vaughan and Gloria Freeland. Photo by Hubert Repovy, France. | Download this photo.


MANHATTAN — A story more than 68 years in the making came full circle in late September and early October when Morganville, Kansas, Mayor Brent Rundell and his wife, Charlotte, visited Fèves, France.

The Rundells were accompanied by Gloria Freeland, assistant professor of journalism and mass communications at Kansas State University, and her husband, Art Vaughan, both of whom have been tracing the history of the Morganville-Fèves connection since students in Freeland's News and Feature Writing class wrote a story about it in spring 2013.

Fèves Mayor René Girard and the village council hosted a reception in honor of the visitors and they were also guests at a dinner.

As well as visiting Fèves, the four visited a World War I memorial near Verdun, France; the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial honoring World War II dead near St. Avold, France; and a Battle of the Bulge monument near Bastogne, Belgium. They also traveled to Trier, Germany, where they saw Roman baths, an aqueduct and Porta Nigra — the famous Black Gate of the city. Along the way, they stopped at a vineyard along the Mosel River.

Freeland's interest in Fèves arose from the spring 2013 writing assignment. A team of three students did research and wrote a story about the sister-city relationship between Fèves and Morganville that developed after World War II. Morganville staged a pageant in 1948 and sponsored other activities over the next few years to raise money for food, clothing, seeds and school supplies for the people of Fèves, a small town that had been devastated by the war.

The publication of the 2013 story helped rekindle the relationship between the two towns. Fèves citizens Gérard and Solange Torlotting and their son, Hervé, and his family visited Morganville in December 2013. Gérard and Solange Torlotting were children when the aid from Morganville began arriving in Fèves.

Freeland and her family also visited Fèves in the summers of 2014, 2015 and 2016, and a 20-member delegation from the village traveled to Kansas State University and Morganville in September 2015.

"I never imagined that a class assignment would lead to the reconnection of the two towns," she said. "It has been a joy to get to know the people of Fèves, and it was a lot of fun traveling with the Rundells and introducing them to some of our favorite things about the Lorraine region of France."

Birgit Wassmuth, director of the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications, is also enthusiastic about the project.

"What started as an assignment in an introductory journalism class has evolved into an exciting binational collaboration whose story promises to be told in a book some day," Wassmuth said. "I am thrilled to know that Gloria is taking this project in that direction."

View a video about the reconnection of the two villages, go to "A Tale of Two Towns" at jmc.k-state.edu/news-events/20160516-feves.html.

At a glance

The mayor of Morganville, Kansas, visits Fèves, France, to solidify the connection between the two towns.