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Échange Fantastique: French Students Visit Hopkins

Rose Porosoff
This month, thirteen students and two teachers from Lycée Louis Pasteur in Avignon, France came to Hopkins and stayed with host families throughout the week.
This month, thirteen students and two teachers from Lycée Louis Pasteur in Avignon, France came to Hopkins and stayed with host families throughout the week. Last March, Hopkins students had the opportunity to visit the French school, so now the French students had the opportunity to visit Hopkins. One of the creators behind this program is French teacher and trip organizer, Dr. Sarah du Plessis. Dr. du Plessis was excited for the French students to “see our school and .... get a good impression of what an American school is like.” Dr. Du Plessis also noted that, “It’s really nice to return the favor and have them as much as we appreciated everything they did for us.” French exchange student, Lou-Ann Leteurtre was excited to discover “the American school [because] in Europe, we idolize it a lot so I’m very curious about discovering [Hopkins], what you study and how your days are organized.” This program was not only an amazing opportunity for the exchange students and host families, but for all Hopkins students as well. Sarah Galvani-Townsend ’25, who attended the France trip, said of the cultural exchange, “We get to learn from people in a less traditional style and they can learn a lot from us; we have a lot to take from each other.” The French students’ arrival was announced at Assembly where Hopkins students were invited to welcome the visitors and “interact with them in their classes, at lunch, and out on the quad,” according to du Plessis. Of the significance of the French students’ visit, du Plessis said “For them to branch out from their host...practice their English, and... they [were] really excited to meet a lot of American kids.” Participants in last year’s trip to France described their experience with the pro- gram.. Gabriel Fulton ’24 remarked how he enjoyed “bond[ing] with people from across the world.” He said that the program helped see that “it’s sort of beautiful and it’s good to see the world for what it truly is.” Galvani-Townsend enjoyed, “get[ting] to know
the culture and language more.” Aniseh Siewert ’25, who hosted an exchange student,
added that “it can broaden our perspective of Hopkins by knowing how it relates to other
schools.” Kaelin Vasseur ’25, who also spent last semester abroad said her favorite part
“was really just about immersing myself in the other place, and the other language being
out of my comfort zone.” Vasseur added that exchange programs helped “strengthen the
bonds of the world.” Vasseur mentioned some differences between the French school and Hopkins:
“there were no blocks...we had our one class and we rotated teachers but not students,
really. We had like three specials that we got to choose and...we had no sports.” Fulton
described another source of culture shock – “They had religion class, which is obviously
different from what we’re doing [at Hopkins].” Before arriving at Hopkins, the exchange students first toured New York and other sites. In New Haven, the students visited well-known places such
as the Yale Art Gallery and met Mayor Justin Elicker. As to the students’ time at Hopkins, Du Plessis said,
“They [shadowed] their host student just like we did when we were there.” According to Du Plessis, French
5 students also led their French peers on “a scavenger hunt ... around New Haven to help them learn about the history of our town and see some of the sights [which] they did the same for us.” Fulton, who helped
to plan the scavenger hunt, said there were a bunch of spots such as, “the statue of the [Yale] bulldog, the
Three Churches, [and] the optical illusion in the alleyway” between Chapel Street and Temple Plaza.
Du Plessis and student participants noted that on their experiences in cultural exchange resulted
in lasting friendships. Du Plessis said that she and her French pen pal from high school “still chat every now
and then.” Du Plessis added that “several of the students that we took over last year are
still in touch with their friends [and] host families.” For her part, Galvani-Townsend said
that she has “kept in touch with some of the people on the trip and [is] really excited to
see them.” When asked about her relationship with her French peers, Vasseur said that
she has “realized I have all these friends in new places... [and] forever I have a bond to a
country.” In advance of her visit, Leteurtre, said that Hopkins “is good-looking and seems
to have a good vibe.” Leteurtre added that what she was most excited about “enjoying
American high school life, [which] seems very fun to me.”
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