Twelve Ransom Everglades School students participated in a student exchange in June with the Lycée Alphonse Daudet, a school in Nîmes, France. The exchange matches Ransom Everglades School students with French students based on their shared interests, and each RE student resides in the French student’s home during the exchange, speaking French, learning about French life and experiencing the country’s traditions and culture.
During the day, RE students attended classes at the lycée with their French student host, took excursions to historic world heritage monuments and popular sites, and explored the city of Nîmes with its markets, quaint streets and parks. After school and on weekends, our students participated in the daily life of the French student and that of the French student’s family. In the fall, the French host students will come to Miami and stay with their Ransom Everglades counterparts as the same exchange process repeats itself.
This summer, we were greeted by beautiful dry weather and sunny skies, cool mornings and evenings, and moderate temperatures. After our students got settled in the first weekend, we started the exchange by spending a day at the lycée and visiting the city of Nîmes. This included a visit to a 2,000-year-old Roman arena where gladiators once fought. The following day there was a bus trip to the renowned Pont du Gard, a unique example of Roman engineering as a giant aqueduct bridge that brought water to Nîmes over 2,000 years ago.
The next day we took a delightful side trip to the medieval village called Baux de Provence perched on a mountainside and fortified against enemy attack. The quaint streets of this historic city and magnificent views were enjoyed by all, and we also savored delicious crepes at lunch. This visit was topped off by viewing the Carriere des Lumières, which is a multimedia display of famous Dutch painters, including Vincent Van Gogh, displayed on the walls of an old quarry with a beautiful soundtrack. A truly unique experience.
Ransom Everglades students also visited a prehistoric cave in a nearby mountain range where cave drawings were discovered, and a museum created for visitors to learn about these prehistoric cave dwellers and their art that dates back 30,000 years. Our students were fascinated to travel back so far in time and our guides were excellent.
The next excursion was to the medieval walled city of Aigues-Mortes, where French knights embarked for the crusades for the King of France. The surrounding area contains one of Europe’s oldest salt mines that are still producing salt. Students climbed a salt mountain and enjoyed a beautiful view of the countryside called Camargue, which is similar to our Everglades on a smaller scale.
The organizers and chaperones were world languages faculty members Dominique McKenna, who began the French exchange in 2013, and Maria-Eugenia Abrante assisted by World Languages Department Chair James Monk.
For our students, the best part of the exchange was the friendships forged with their French hosts and the opportunity to experience the French way of life. Being immersed in the French language and culture gave our students a chance to use what they have learned in the classroom and finetune their French conversational skills. Everyone who participated has made a quantum leap in French and has the memories to go along with that.
At Halloween, we will be welcoming the French students who will get to test their English and experience our way of life Miami style which will be as new and exciting for them as it was for our Ransom Everglades students.
World Languages Department Faculty