The Memorandum of Understanding between the government of France and the State of Wisconsin was established in April of 2006. We applied for a partnership and HUHS was one of 12 schools throughout the state to be selected for one of these pairings. Our school was matched with the Lycee Jean-Henri Fabre in Carpentras, France (in the south, in Provence, about an hour from the Mediterranean Sea). We first started with a teacher exchange. One of their English teachers came here to visit us and then the opposite. We started the student exchange the following year in hopes of building cultural understanding amongst the many people involved, fostering lifelong friendships amongst the students, promoting second language acquisition, and providing our students with an opportunity to experience another part of the world - very different from our own in both history and way of life.
This has been a very rewarding experience for both schools. Many of our students have kept in contact with their partners and have visited again on their own. The richness of culture experienced on both sides of the ocean has been immense and history has come alive for our students due to their visit in an area that has been influenced by many great civilizations. This experience has opened the eyes of our young people and made them more welcoming to new experiences. It is an opportunity that is very different than a tour because of the close ties that are built between families.
The French students and teachers come here every other year. They usually spend several days in Chicago and then about 10 days with our families. We go to France every other year for the exchange as well. We go to the families for about 8 or 9 days and then spend a couple days in Paris. Our students usually must do a number of fundraisers to off-set the cost of the trip, but when we are there, we are hosted by very warm and giving people. We pay for our flights, buses, entrance fees, and transportation for the major excursions, but they provide homes, meals at home and at school, day to day travel to the school, and usually some smaller family trips. When they are here, we provide the same hospitality.
This year there are 30 students and 2 teachers coming. They arrive in Chicago on Oct. 8th and will come to Hartford on Oct 11th, with their first day in the building on the 12th.