A number of Bronxville School families hosted 20 students and two teachers from France from Oct. 11-23, as part of an exchange program that immersed students into the history, culture and customs of others.
“It may have looked like 12 days on a calendar, but this exchange lasts a lifetime,” said Toby Gillen, a middle school and high school French teacher who organized the exchange program. “The French Exchange embodies everything that our Bronxville Promise stands for – taking risks, teaching our students what it means to represent their school, state and country, and imagine the possibilities.”
The host families planned a variety of activities for their guests, including visits to the Empire State Building, the National September 11Memorial & Museum, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and Times Square, as well as walking tours of Grand Central Station, the United Nations and Wall Street. While in school, middle school teacher Joyce Myers taught the exchange students how to bake chocolate chip cookies, and Bronxville High School students discussed with their guests the differences between an American and French high school experience and bonded over their favorite shows, movies and food. The exchange students also created a journal about their trip in Marijke Briggs’ class and led a discussion in Chris Doyle’s history class about D-Day, or the day in World War II on which the Allied forces invaded France’s Normandy region. In addition, the French students tasted cheese with students from the middle school’s French Club and taught a geography lesson to third-graders who are studying different countries around the world.
“The French students were woven into the very fabric of the Bronxville School,” Gillen said. “They were part of homecoming, the lunch crowd and everyday classes. When it came time for the French students to leave, I was amazed at how many students who do not even take a French language class came out to say goodbye. It just goes to show that it does not take much to open people up, to get to know others and be more tolerant.”
Prior to leaving, the exchange students met with Mayor Mary Marvin and Police Chief Christopher Satriale and toured City Hall and the police station.
“It really takes a village to successfully pull off a major undertaking like a student exchange,” Gillen said. “But this is one more example of what a wonderful community we have here in Bronxville. We have the support of the administration, faculty, students and the community at large. Without everyone working together, it would be impossible to successfully pull this off every two years.”
As part of the exchange program, a group of Bronxville High School students will travel to France in February where they will stay with host families.