It was a week of cultural immersion, global learning, and conversation as nine Middle and Upper School students from the French B and French 2 classes hosted a small group of French exchange students from a private school near Lyon, France.
The exchange students were accompanied by their chaperones, Séverine Chatre and Linda Valla.
The visiting students were welcomed to campus with a tour before they split off into a busy schedule that showcased education and daily campus life at Hamden Hall. Ninth-graders Leni Vujovic, Grant Evans, Barbara Ramirez-Moreno, and Alma Goren-Eisenberg along with eighth-graders Maryam Bilal, Lily Evans, Frida Ramirez-Moreno, Alex Tombaugh, and Chris Tombaugh served as hosts while Associate Director of College Counseling Carole Bird hosted one of the chaperones. Past parents David Parnoff and Melissa Sette Parnoff 1986 also hosted one of the chaperones.
“This experience is meaningful for students in the way that it brings the language learning inside the classroom to real-life communication,” said language teacher Margarita Kuhn-D’Elia.
Throughout the week, the French students shadowed various classes around the campus including history, science, math, art, and, most importantly, lunch! In French class with teacher Suzanne Hamlin Smith, the students introduced themselves to other Hamden Hall students and discussed their hobbies and interests.
Head of School Bob Izzo met with the visiting contingent and welcomed them to our school community. He inquired about each student’s interests and learned that several were musicians, fencers, boxers, and more. Chaperone Linda Valla encouraged a reciprocal visit by Hamden Hall next year to which Mr. Izzo agreed, saying he would be pleased to send students and faculty to be hosted by our French counterparts.
Prior to returning to France, the students and their chaperones were scheduled to take a tour of Yale University and then a day trip to New York City to see the sights.
The students remarked on a few differences they noticed between Hamden Hall and their school in Lyon. They noted how the buildings here on campus are bigger, and they said there is more time to congregate between classes.
Reflecting on their three days on campus, the students noted many memorable highlights including watching the Varsity Lacrosse games, shopping with their host families, and enjoying the local food. One student even got the chance to try horseback riding with the Evans family.
“The exchange has been an incredibly valuable experience for not only the French students, but for our Hamden Hall students as well,” said World Language Department Chair Yasmin Haque. “They have had the opportunity to really use their language skills, make new friends, and reflect on aspects of their own lives in comparison with those of their French counterparts.”