As we wrap up our time in France, you will hear from students as they reflect on the four core values: connectedness, leadership, empathy, and self-awareness.
One of my favorite experiences during my stay at Rennes was being able to connect with my host sister through TV shows that we both liked. Every night after dinner, we would go up to her room to watch TV together and talk about other shows we both had already watched. This was definitely one of the highlights of my home stay because my first night at Rennes we were talking about movies and shows and it made me realize how very similar we are in many different ways.
During my stay with my host family there were a lot of things that connected to the four core values that our class is focusing on. For example, I felt connected to empathized with my host sister when we were talking and she shared that she is worried about next year when her brother will be living in Chile for the year. She was caught between being happy for her brother and excited that he will get to have this experience, and nervous about being able to talk to him with the time zone difference, and live without him for a year. This is very similar to my own experience with my brothers since we all go/went to boarding school, and my brothers school is on the other side of the continent with a three hour time difference. I was able to use my own experience to try and comfort her and reassure her that even with the time difference she will be able to talk to her brother. Another core value that I saw a lot was self awareness. A lot of the french students we met were very aware of how fast they were talking. They were really good at making sure they slowed down so we could understand and participate in the conversation.
The two weeks of school in Rennes is a real immersion to me. I did not feel like a tourist; a traveler is perhaps more accurate to describe my role in this journey. During the break, we enjoyed our time with the students. The best part of being a traveler is the cultural exchange. The students here were very welcoming and it was never a problem finding someone to have lunch with. We would talk about the habits and traditions in our cultures, and a lot of times, we were amazed by how different they were. During classes, I communicated with students and in some ways, I felt as if I was at Porter’s. I would even interact with the teacher and point out a mistake in her class. This trip has been more than a language immersion program; by spending time with the local students and families, I feel like a traveler for the first time and never want to leave.
My host family is a bilingual family. Although everyone in the family’s level of English varies, they can all communicate in English just fine. Aliénor, the youngest child of the family, has just started taking Spanish this year, while also having English class everyday. Because Aliénor has just started Spanish, I can tell that the language can be difficult for her at times.
The first time I interacted with Aliénor was when she was explaining how to play some board games to me. She spoke with me and noticed that I didn’t completely registered everything, and so she slowed down and stopped after every two sentences to make sure that I understood her. I think because Aliénor can understand my frustration with learning a third language, she always tried to make sure that we are both were on the same page. To know that there’s someone in the family who also understands my frustration and why I always stumbled when I spoke French made me feel reassured that it was okay to make mistakes, because that’s how we learn.
When reflecting on the four core values, empathy, leadership, connectedness, and self-awareness, I could see empathy being demonstrated in many of the interactions between my host family and myself. I’m not used to communicating in French and they are not used to speaking in English, so I think we can very well empathize with each other when challenged by the language barrier and have been able to show willingness and put in effort to foster this cross-cultural relationship. As a result, I could see connectedness in the harmony we have come to find as host family and host student, despite the many differences that make us two worlds apart. Self-awareness is evident for me almost constantly during my host stay experience. I’m always very well-aware of how I present myself and also, I’m always reminding myself to take on challenges and step out of my comfort zone. Finally, I think leadership is shown when I initiate conversations that are not as easy to talk about such as stereotypes, controversial topics…etc. Overall, I could see the four core values apply to many moments of my time here in France.
Throughout this trip, I have demonstrated all of the four core values and upheld all of hem up until the end. I demonstrated a sense of connectedness by becoming closer with my host sister and her family. In the process I also became closer with other people in my class and learned the importance of staying in the moment and trying to form new relationships with people I meet. Being in a busy city, both Paris in Rennes, I learned to navigate myself around the streets and gained a better sense of direction, especially after getting lost once in Rennes waiting for my host sister to finish class. After having to navigate myself around, I became much more self aware, not only of my location, but also my belongings as Paris is a city with those who could pickpocket me. Finally, I demonstrated the fourth core value, empathy, by understanding the difficulty of having another person living in one’s house. Whenever I saw or felt that my host family was a bit overwhelmed with another person living in their house, I tried to help them as much as I could’ve. I empathized with my host sister when she had many priorities in school but also had to be present with me by not being too much of a burden and being independent when it came to finding my way around Rennes.
Staying with Mathilde’s family in rennes was my second experience living with a host family in a foreign country. Due to this, I have to admit that I went in with some expectations. I am pleased to say that my experience living with mathilde and her family was amazing in both similar and different ways from my first time staying with a host family. I felt that despite a language barrier due to my limited french and the family’s limited english, we had to communicate and connect in other ways sometimes. Eating crepes for dinner with mathilde and her mother on my last night in rennes probably wasn’t the most exciting or interesting thing we did, but it was a moment where I felt a connection with a different family and culture. Throughout multiple experiences like this in Rennes, I was able to appreciate these little moments in a new way.
I have demonstrated leadership by being alone with friends in the city and figuring our way around. I took initiative with figuring out directions and navigation myself through the busy streets! I made sure that I was on time for everything and I made sure to set a good example to represent our school.
I have demonstrated connectedness by connecting with my host sister and other girls who are at the Lycée. One day we went with Dani, Thais and Simrat for lunch at Thais’ house and then Laser Tag afterwards. It was just us exploring Rennes and I felt as though we all became closer.
I have demonstrated Empathy by understanding how it is to have another person in the house. I had hosted two girls from RDFZ in Beijing and I can understand how it feels to want to make sure that their always happy while also balancing school work. Camille, my host sister, apologized for feeling as though she didn’t spend as much time with me as possible, but I empathized with her by being understanding of her situation!
I have demonstrated Self-Awareness by being careful in a very busy city. I always reminded others to look both ways while crossing the street and reminding those to not forget items in places. Having had my phone stolen while traveling two years back, I have grown very Self-Aware in foreign countries.