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Education Students Head to France for Exchange

May 31, 2013 — 

As part of the Faculty’s first-ever French exchange program with l’Université d’Orléans, four Education students have travelled to Orléans to teach English and French classes at local elementary schools. The students have been sending us blog posts to share their experiences! Read them below.

The late Dr. Robert Macmillan, dean of education, initiated this pilot exchange program, which aims to give the U of M and Orléans students the experience to share languages and cultures, as well as to promote a joint research project between the two countries’ faculties of Education.


WEEK 1/2 Blog Post
Submitted May 12, 2013

O, La France!

Diana, Brittany, Chelsea and Nicole are taking it all in during their first week in France.

Bonjour de la France! The four of us, Diana Chojzak, Chelsea Hummelt, Brittany Pastrick and Nicole Buhler, have arrived to the wonderful city of Orleans, which is located about an hour away from Paris on the Loire Valley. It is known for its big Cathedral Saint-Croix and Joan of Arc. Near us, we can find ancient castles along the Loire river, which we have yet to discover!

We have been busy since day one. A good busy, that is! We spent two days at the university learning about the education system in France, which is so interesting! We have been making comparisons, questioning the differences, and are now starting to think about what really interests us for our research. We are all looking forward to diving into the schools come Monday! Just walking passed students on the street and listening to them speak French was already exciting!  The spring here is so beautiful, with a variety of flowers and lush greenery surrounding us. It has been a nice change from Winnipeg’s weather!

Nicole luckily just received her baggage after a week of it deciding to travel other places such as, Amsterdam! We are all enjoying the French baguettes, the very stinky cheese (YUM!), the espressos, and of course, the wine! Every street corner we turn seems to be filled with stories, history and hidden gems. This week was also the celebration of Joan of Arc, so we had the opportunity to join the festivities, which included a light show on the cathedral, a medieval market with delicious crepes, and a beautiful orchestra concert that was performed in the cathedral! On Sunday, we are heading out to live with our families for the next three weeks. We will be observing and teaching every day except Wednesdays, where we will be at the university. We are also looking forward to Professor Baranowski’s arrival in just over a week! So far, it has been a great success…how could it not be when you are in a beautiful country, such as La France! À la prochaine!

☺ Diana


Week 2 Blog Post
Submitted May 15, 2013


Eglise Ste. Croix in Orleans.

I have been in France for the past three weeks and it is magnificent. The architecture that surrounds you as you’re walking down Champs-Elysees and the history that encompasses France is brilliant. Everything is so old and beautiful at the same time, it is unlike any place I have ever been.

Ecole Louis Guilloux where Brittany is teaching.

This past week, I have been in an elementary school called, Louis Guilloux. It is very precious. There are only nine teachers and a director. To enter the school you have to go through these grand stone doors, which open to a courtyard. There are five different buildings that surround the courtyard. Three of them consist of classrooms, one is the drama room and the other is the director’s office and the staff room/washrooms. The classroom that I am in is called CM2, which is equivalent to Grade 5 in Canada. There are 25 students that are 9 and 10 years old and always so eager to learn. It has been such a great experience so far presenting Canada and Manitoba to the students as well as teaching them some English.

I cannot say enough wonderful things about Orléans, France, where I am doing my practicum; it is such a quaint town. Right now, I am living in the heart of Orléans and just a few blocks away is the Loire. Each time I go out exploring I find new historical places and boutiques. To top it all off, this was the town of Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc) in which many monuments are dedicated. Each day I am learning something new and I can’t get enough!

À bientôt!


Week 3 Blog Post
Submitted May 25, 2013

Wow, how the time has been passing so quickly here in France. We are already finished our third week of practicum and enjoying Orléans and the other neighbouring cities. This week was a shorter week in the schools for us because of the holiday Monday and a cultural outing with the French exchange practicum students Orléans and other students that are in Orléans that are doing the same program for only two weeks from England.

One of the beautiful castles the students have been visiting, Chateau de Sully-sur-Loire.

We took advantage of these two days out of the schools by visiting Chateau de Sully-sur-Loire on the Monday with our French professor Krystyna Baranowski from the University of Manitoba, Valerie Zanelli who is our coordinator here, and one of the teachers that I work with at the high school I am in once a week.

Orléans and UofM practicum students with professor Krystyna Baranowski at the top of Chateau de Amboise overlooking the city of Amboise in the background. (Left: Alexandre, Aurelie, Krystyna, Brittany, Diana, Chelsea, Nicole, Manon)

The Wednesday for our cultural outing we went the city of Amboise where we visited Chateau Clos de Lucé, which is famous because it was the residence of Leonardo DaVinci for several years in the 1500’s. Later that afternoon we visited the Chateau de Amboise, it was gorgeous. I am excited for when I become a teacher and will be able to share all this cultural and historical knowledge that goes alone with these famous French castles. They are so intricate and have such fascinating stories that go along with every part of the castles, such as the construction, what happened in certain rooms, and other historical events. Other than our outings we were in the schools three days this week. I am learning so much about the French education system and gaining further practicum experience in both teaching English and French. I am also enjoying a few French pastries here and there.

Vive la France!


Week 4 Blog Post
Submitted June 4, 2013

End of France alternative practicum…

The last four weeks have flown by, but we have taken advantage of as many opportunities as possible to participate in the classrooms and learn about the school system and culture of France while seeing as many of the sights as possible. During this last week, we said goodbye to our classes and had the opportunity to visit all three schools since each one has a very different demographic. We have learned about the challenges French schools face as well as the many successes that they have and we have been able to compare second language teaching in France to that of Manitoba. As we go our separate ways we take with us an expanded worldview and an appreciation for a language and culture that is vibrant all over the world. We hope to pass it on with renewed passion to our students back home.

~ Nicole

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