Bronxville News

Bronxville High School Students Experience Life in France
Bronxville, NY

A group of 22 Bronxville High School students had a memorable learning experience when they spent two weeks in France at the end of March as part of the school’s exchange program. Under the guidance of high school French teacher Toby Gillen and middle school French teacher Emily Cloud, they stayed with host families, explored famous Parisian monuments, and fully immersed themselves into the lives of their French counterparts.

“The French Exchange program embodies everything that our Bronxville Promise stands for – taking risks; teaching our students what it means to represent your school, your state and your country; and to imagine the possibilities beyond this one-square mile,” said Gillen, who has been organizing the program for more than a decade. “Many students who have participated on past French Exchanges have later found the courage and curiosity to continue to explore the world – whether it is to study overseas at the university level or to seek job and internship opportunities abroad. It may have looked like 14 days on a calendar, but this exchange will last a lifetime.”

While the program has been in existence for 30 years, this was the first time Bronxville participated in an exchange with Lycée Jules-Froment, a high school in Aubenas, France. The students began their trip as tourists in Paris before heading to their homestay in Aubenas. While in Paris, they toured the Palace of Versailles, participated in a scavenger hunt in the Louvre, and went on a boat tour and guided bus tour of Paris. They also visited the Eiffel Tower, walked up the Champs-Elysees, explored the Latin Quarter, as well as admired the water lily paintings by Monet in the Musee de l’Orangerie, the stunning stained-glass windows of Sainte-Chapelle and the many creations of Christian Dior at La Galerie Dior.

While in Aubenas, the Bronxville students attended classes with the French students and presented in various high school classes about school life in New York, as well as its history and culture and university application process. Meanwhile, their excursions were a mix of ancient and modern history and culture. The students traveled back in time with a visit to the cave paintings in the Grotte Chauvet, explored the Roman history in the region and visited the village of Balazuc, which dates to the 12th century. During their trip, they also joined a discussion at the high school about carbon footprints, participated in an eco-challenge treasure hunt and planted a tree in the courtyard to symbolize the partnership between the two schools.

“It really takes a village in order to successfully pull off a major undertaking like a student exchange,” Gillen said. “This is one more example of what a wonderful community we have here in Bronxville and what we witnessed in Aubenas. We are fortunate to have the support of the administration, faculty, the students and the community at large. Without everyone working together, it would be impossible to successfully pull this off.”

Gillen expressed her appreciation for her French counterpart, Raquel Granda, a teacher at the Lycée Jules-Froment High School, for participating in the exchange program. She emphasized that it takes time and effort to lead a successful program that provides an invaluable and unique experience for the students.