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INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGES

 

The exchange programme, with international partner schools, has considerably developed over the years, putting Saint Martin de France on the map in the global school network. The exchanges provide the pupils with a unique opportunity to discover countries via native families and not simply as tourists.

Approximately 150 students each year benefit from our programme which is a hugely important aspect of our school which prides itself on developing the Oratory vision of open minded and well-rounded pupils. At Saint Martin de France, our education goes further than knowledge acquisition and scholastic achievement.

It was the Reverand Father Caffin, an Oratorian priest, who distinguished 4 educational models in Europe which were influenced by the cultural mentalities of their people:

The British zone: which exalts the importance of free choice for all

The Scandinavian zone: which privileges living together in harmony

The Germanic zone: which focusses on the careful orientation of pupils

The Latin zone: which targets the acquisition of knowledge and to which French schools adhere.

At Saint Martin de France, we base our approach on all 4 models.

This is precisely the reason why Saint Martin de France chose to reconcile academic progression in coordination with the project of helping students to blossom and develop via sport, musical activities, theatre art and international exchanges.

In the context of a globalised world, our youth need to unite together to make tomorrow’s adults. We believe that developing mutual respect through discovering the difference of others is how understanding and tolerance is forged. All these elements are fundamental in our evolution and the representation of Christian values.

The facts speak for themselves. Former pupils of our school who now work in all the far flung corners of the world, acknowledge the exchanges at Saint Martin as having opened their horizons and as having been the catalyst which lead to them becoming fully fledged citizens of the world.

Pupils often tell us they gain admission into highbrow universities of their choice after having been able to capitalise from the benefits of the exchanges: linguistic progress and the ability to adapt and be flexible.

Year after year, we never cease to marvel at the heartfelt goodbyes of the tearful exchange students at the airport, sad to leave their new friends ….

Perhaps matters are best summed up by the students themselves. Several months ago, Valeriane (promotion 2005) sent in her news, via LinkedIn:

I was in the European class : I visited England twice, Germany once, Austria, Louisiana and Canada. I even remember our adventure in Rome when I was in 6th grade and you were with us (on the night train! Yayy!)

Thanks to you, I was able to have the opportunity to do these amazing exchanges abroad, and above all, go to Canada which allowed me to meet Rachelle, this awesome Canadian girl who is now one of my best friends. In fact, she came over to see us this Spring.

Do you still organise exchanges to the Canadian school ? We went back last year, Rachelle and I. the Headmaster recognised us and we ate in the school canteen with him. It was amazing!! Really one of those moving moments in life for both of us.

 

That would be why I’d encourage all the pupils to come and find out what you can offer them and so you can orientate them towards an exchange which will give them the chance to have great reunions in the future, like we did.

Being able to do all those trips when I was young got me hooked on discovering different cultures and different people and things we can meet on the other side of the world. I’m pretty sure that having got the “addiction” young in life made us autonomous and really helped us feel at ease wherever we go in our lives as young adults”.

Valériane (promotion 2005)

 

« I was 15 when I met my American exchange partner. I will almost be 25 and she is still a good friend of mine.

Even though we can’t see each other very often, when we do, nothing has changed at all! I will soon be going to her wedding and I’m sure we will share many other happy moments together.

It all happened thanks to the exchange program with St Joseph’s Academy, in Baton Rouge (Louisiana / USA) when I was in “2nde”, 10 years ago.

When I was 16, another exchange took place in Canada, with Trinity College School (Port Hope / Ontario). It was a new experience with a new exchange partner who also became a good friend of mine. In 2018, nearly 10 years later, we were having a drink at my apartment in Paris, sharing lots of cheerful and care free memories of the good old days!

Two exchanges, two friends, and my home will always remain open for them.

But that is not the most surprising part!…

Whenever my family welcomed exchange partners, I always organized a “raclette” party at home for them to discover this legendary French meal.

The year the Americans came to my house, I invited a friend of mine who was not part of the exchange.

As they were enjoying pâté and cheese, my friend and one of the American girls got along very well… but he couldn’t imagine at the time she would become the woman of his life!!!

Many years later, as they were having a sabbatical year in Los Angeles, they met up again, fell in love and got engaged!

If one day they have children, and they ask “how did you both meet”? The answer can only be: “at 15 years old, on a St Martin school exchange!”

 

Gérôme (promotion 2010)