Above: Students from Lycée Notre Dame in Dijon visit Carolina Day School in Asheville
Bringing France to Asheville
Lycée Notre Dame students visit Carolina Day as part of cultural exchange program
For the past decade, Lycée Notre Dame in Dijon and Carolina Day School have fostered an exchange program between the two schools. On odd years, Carolina Day School students go to France, and on even years, the French students come here.
Recently, the French students visited Carolina Day, this being the tenth year of the exchange program—the year in which the Lycée Notre Dame students come to Asheville.
Upper School French teacher Kathryn Garrison describes the impact of the visiting students. “For our community, I think they add a glimpse of a different culture, a different point of view, a chance to explore a European/French perspective.”
The experience of interacting with students from another culture can greatly alter CDS student perspectives. “All of our students get to engage with them while they are here in school,” said Garrison. “They get to talk to them in the hallways and hear them in class. It's a way to bring a different culture here—to bring France here to Asheville.
“Though it’s a somewhat familiar European culture, there are definitely nuances. We see it when we go to France and experience French schools and life with French families. The French school system is much more strict and rigid. The teachers still lecture most of the time. Sports are more important here [in the US]. I am meeting with the French students right now and they are talking about culture shock—what they have experienced so far.”
Carolina Day students are looking forward to their opportunity to experience French culture first-hand during next year’s trip to Dijon. Students studying French at CDS will have the opportunity to spend almost two weeks with a host family in Dijon during next year’s Spring Break, with a quick trip to Paris at the end. While in Dijon, the students will attend classes with their exchange students and go on excursions in the Burgundy region of France.
“What makes this program so enriching is the personal relationships the students develop with their host families,” adds Garrison. “It is more than just a cultural tour of the museums and monuments of France—the students live with a family, speak French, and experience the cultural similarities and differences first-hand. It’s an amazing experience to see the students in daily situations that are outside their comfort zone and watch how they persevere and thrive. To this day, many former students remain in contact with their exchange families.”
After the home-stays in Dijon, the group travels to Paris. Garrison explains the role CDS students will have: “The students are in charge of this part of the trip. Each is given a daily task which involves taking care of the needs of the group—being the navigator, hydration manager, restaurant/food finder, group leader, etc. For the upcoming trip, the students are going to meet in advance to plan and present to the group the places they want to go. From there, they will plan the itinerary. In the end, the trip to Paris is a real-world application of collaboration, creative thinking, and adaptability.
“From the beginning of the trip in Dijon to the end in Paris, the whole trip celebrates community with our friends in France and with each other.”
Carolina Day School is Asheville, North Carolina’s co-ed independent day school, where inclusive community, inspired teaching, and innovative program create a journey of excellence for each student. For more information about Carolina Day School visit carolinaday.org or call 828-274-0757.