French exchange program with brother school Le Lycée Saint-Joseph put on hold

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On Tuesday, Nov. 3, the Loyola French Club met up digitally on Zoom with the students of Loyola’s French brother school, Le Lycée Saint-Joseph to discuss the status of the foreign exchange program. The program, which would consist of sending Loyola students to Reims, France over spring break in exchange for French students, was postponed to follow and maintain COVID-19 safety standards.

French teacher and French Club Moderator Crawford-Dixon said “It is truly unfortunate that this program, which took so long to coordinate and get approved, has to be archived. Foreign exchange programs have always been regarded as opportunities for cultural immersion as well as educational growth and it is sorrow that Loyola students have to wait yet another year for this opportunity to arise.”

2 years ago, Foreign Language Department Chair Cedric Ebiner and Lori Crawford-Dixon began formulating the inner workings of the foreign-exchange program; they worked with the foreign language department as well as the Loyola administration to get approval. Once the green light was given, Mrs. Crawford-Dixon took the first steps for the program by traveling to Reims, France with seven Loyola cubs to meet their French brothers.

Director of Faculty & Global Education Daniel Annarelli said “I had hoped that the French exchange program would be a model for international partnerships between Loyola and other Jesuit secondary schools around the world. The goal is for Loyola and St. Joseph to continue developing a strong relationship over time, which will open doors to dialogue between our schools. In this format, we hope to develop awareness about our cultural similarities and differences, discover common themes between our academic curriculums, and devise a collaborative vision for responding to questions of global importance in our world. Achieving this will demonstrate what it means to be a global citizen in an Ignatian context.”

Attempting to preserve the fire, Senior Kenneth Duran, President of the French Club, created a Zoom call that would serve to connect Loyola and the students of Le Lycée Saint-Joseph. Although the meeting was an opportunity for both parties to understand each other’s situations and, it was only a fraction of the exchange experience.

Senior Christian Tepper said “I was excited to see how this exchange program was going to work since an international exchange is the best way to immerse in a culture. Unfortunately, the sudden halt in these plans made me feel so defeated as I had seen my older siblings do exchange programs and they loved it. However, the meeting was a great introduction to seeing the world through their lens; I was able to learn about their [French students] culture and approach to the pandemic. I’m excited to see where these monthly meetings bring us in terms of cultural immersion and updates on the program.

After talking with Sophie, the exchange coordinator for St. Joseph, the Loyola coordinators behind this program concurred to put the exchange on hold until 2022-2023. The health and safety of both the students of Le Lycée Saint-Joseph and Loyola High are the school’s major priorities.

Annarelli said, “Madame Crawford Dixon, Mr. Ebiner and I are disappointed that we cannot launch the program in 2020 due to the global pandemic. However, a solid foundation is being laid between our schools so that when we do introduce the program, we will execute it in the safest, healthiest and most meaningful ways possible.”Overall, the French Club ensures that this connection between Le Lycée Saint-Joseph and Loyola does not die out; by meeting monthly on Zoom, students from both schools will have an opportunity to assimilate digitally in each other’s culture. The Loyola administration is very optimistic for what the future holds for the club.

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