As Newtown High School French teacher Jennifer Davidson pointed out during a student panel discussion on Monday, March 25, a visit from a delegation of students and teachers from France this week marked the first time a group of students from Europe have visited the high school through the Newtown International Center for Education (NICE).
“It is a big step forward for NICE and for NHS,” said Ms Davidson.
The visiting delegation of 20 students and three teachers arrived on Saturday, March 23, for a weeklong stay in the district, during which the delegates are staying with host families. A welcoming event was held on Saturday, and a farewell ceremony is also scheduled.
The delegation is from a NICE sister school Lycée Alain, located in Le Vésinet, a suburb 20 minutes west of Paris.
During the week, the delegates attended NHS, and toured local sites, including New York City.
The Newtown co-coordinators of the NICE France project are World Language Department Head Paula Greenfield and Ms Davidson.
“We are very excited about building this new relationship with our sister school in France,” said Ms Davidson. “This will give our students from both countries a great opportunity to experience a different culture and make firsthand connections.”
A Newtown student delegation, set to participate in a study tour of France April 12–20, were involved in preparatory workshops through NICE focused on language, culture, travel, program components, and etiquette to deepen their understandings of the sister school and the French culture. These experiences have proven to be a great opportunity for Newtown students, families, and community members to experience a different culture, according to NICE.
The student panel held on Monday, March 25, had visiting French students sit at the front of the NHS Lecture Hall and answer questions posed by NHS students. Questions ranged from what the students eat for breakfast to what aspects of American culture they like most.
NICE is a grant- and donation-funded program of the Newtown Public Schools.