SHP’s Exchange Program Starts the Year Strong (Issue 1, News)

by Nic Nikcevic (’22), Kieran Seif (’22) & Jackson Moroney (’22)

Along with the excitement of the new school year, the new building, and the new faces here on campus, the prep was happy to welcome a group of foreign exchange students that are experiencing SHP’s campus for the first time. The exchange students from Spain and France were a more than welcome addition to our beautiful school.

Dr. Christiane Gautier, a French and Spanish teacher who had exchange students in her classes commented on the matter. “I don’t want you, my students, to be exposed only to my way of speaking French, right? In France, we have many people, from many many different places… maybe from Africa, maybe from Martinique, maybe from Canada, from Quebec. We all speak slightly differently, right?” 

In addition to her multicultural approach, Dr. Gautier points out that students, even those not taking classes in the Foreign Language Department, can learn from the background and lifestyle of exchange students in general. In particular, she thinks that it is “wonderful for you to be able to listen to different intonations, different accents. It’s wonderful for you to also interact with… young French students. I think it’s wonderful that our school can provide that authentic experience.” 

Students at SHP are very fortunate to be able to attend such a resourceful and wholesome school. However, the benefits of the institution make it is easy to overlook the fact that the area is somewhat in a kind of a “bubble.” Having exchange students from around the world come to the campus helps break that bubble, and expose students to other ways of life. When asked what she found most different from the Prep and her experience as an exchange student in Spain, Luci Lambert ‘21 explained that “it was really interesting to eat dinner so late and see such incredible nightlife.” Luci added that she found eating dinner later allowed the day to be more relaxed and not move at such a fast pace.

After, the Heart Beat had the opportunity to have a word with Luci’s exchange student, Montse Garcia, who is a senior from Barcelona. She talked about what she found different, but also what she misses after coming to the U.S., saying that “things are a lot bigger here in California. In Barcelona, buildings get bigger by being taller, but here everything is much more spread out. Because everything is spread out you have to rely on cars a lot more, I miss being able to walk like I do at home.” 

Taking into account Montse and Lucy’s experiences is very eye opening in that it allows students to compare their daily life with that of their peers in other Sacred Heart Schools, especially those in a foreign country. It is important to be more open to learning about different cultures and keeping an open mind. Students are encouraged to talk with exchange students around campus and ensure that they feel welcome, no matter what time they come during the year.

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