May 10, 2016

Students to visit France for summer program

By Becky Raspe

Cleveland State University held a guided tour April 20 for 20 French high school students from Lycee Gustave Flaubert in Cleveland’s sister-city of Rouen, France. The students were part of an exchange program with Shaker Heights High School, an International Baccalaureate school, which is now in its sixth year.

Their visit and their school will also play a role in Cleveland State students’ visit to the French city this summer.

Amara Alberto, a senior majoring in studio art, led the tour to show campus landmarks, and main buildings and told the visitors about student life at Cleveland State.

“It was interesting how much of a cultural difference there was just within the hour and a half I had to interact with them,” Alberto said. “I had to be aware of my use of American slang and they did ask me to slow down after the first building – I always forget how fast I talk.”

After their tour, the students visited a university French course for a discussion about popular culture, cultural norms, their impression of the school and the area and other hot topics such as their take on the presidential elections. Meeting in small groups, French and Cleveland State students then had the opportunity to learn new things about each other’s cultures.

Suzanne Genillier, who is a French teacher at Shaker Heights, originally set up the exchange program with Lycee Flaubert in Rouen, finds that the experience is always enriching for students.

“Every two years, we take students from Rouen here and then the other year, [American] students go to Rouen,” Genillier said. “It’s always fortunate for students to get a more personalized experience while spending the weekends with their [host] families. Many of them went to Niagara Falls and some even went to see a Cavs’ game.”

After meeting with the university students, the exchange students were invited to eat at Viking Marketplace, paid for by the Center for International Services and Programs (CISP).

The Shaker Heights High School exchange students’ trip to Cleveland State created opportunities for French professor Tama Engleking, who is accompanying some of her students to Rouen and Paris this summer for a month.

Along with several long excursions and day trips, like visits to the D-Day landing beaches and Claude Monet’s house, Cleveland State’s study abroad group will be visiting Lycee Flaubert and shadowing students there as they go throughout their day.

“Students will be living with host families while in Rouen and going to classes at the Université of Rouen to earn credits for the program,” Engleking said. “But, they will also visit the high school and be paired with two students as they go about their day. This will include going to their classes and participating in intercultural activities and discussions.”

The trip will be from May 29 to June 24, with three weeks being spent in Rouen with their host families and at the university taking classes. They will then stay in a dormitory for five days in Paris to take on three distinct themes, l’eau, or water, la gastronomie, or food and l’impressionnisme, or impressionism.
Scheduled trips will incorporate these themes, like cooking classes and tastings, boat rides on the Seine River and a trip to the Rouen Cathedral to see the light show.

“I never went on any abroad trips while I was a student. There was always the issue of money, as many other student still have,” Engleking said. “But that’s why I want students to try and go – it’s a very important experience.”

Engleking noted a few students out of her group of seven tried for scholarships at the Wheel of Study Abroad Fair earlier this semester, but none of them won. She expressed concern that some of her students would have trouble finding funding. Lack of student response caused last year’s trip to be canceled, and she didn’t want this year’s to be canceled too.

“I’m very excited to go,” Engleking said. “It’s always a great time with students while in Rouen. I have been to France before but when you see how excited the students are and how aware they are, it’s like you’re living their excitement through them too.”

To help finance the trip, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS), Gregory Sadlek, provided $5,000 from the CLASS Scholarship account. Sadlek expressed deep appreciation for programs like Study Abroad.

“These scholarships are made possible by the generous donors who contributed to the CLASS Scholarship Account,” Sadlek said. “We are very grateful for their support.”

“Our use of these funds for the Rouen summer program reflects our strong belief in the benefits of international education,” Sadlek said. “We know that our students will have a really profound, even life-changing, experience as a result of this opportunity to study abroad under Professor Engelking’s leadership.  The trip is even more appropriate because Rouen is Cleveland’s sister-city in France.”

The French trip is finalized, but many other study abroad programs appear on CISP’s website  -- Most deadlines are quickly approaching or have already passed, but the site also provides information for students who are curious about study abroad trips in the future.


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