France trip gives student new perspective on teaching and life
Exchange in Orleans provided not only language learning but also chance to forge new friendships
Four teacher candidates from the Faculty of Education participated in an exchange in Orleans, France, from May 11 to June 6, 2015.
While the students were in France, they kept a blog of their activities.
Post No. 3 is by Gabrielle Wiebe.
My first assumption of what I would gain while on this study course in Orleans, France was an improvement in my French language abilities. While this is true, my learning has gone far beyond this.
There is something about being far from home which gives you a new perspective of where you come from and how things run there.
In addition to the chance to reflect on Manitoban education in comparison with the French education system, I have also received the gift of collaborative learning.
I have spent the last three weeks with three people, who six months ago did not exist to me, who four months ago were names on group emails and faces in meetings, and who are now friends with whom I spend almost every day.
What has made this collaborative learning experience so special is that, if I’m being honest, I probably would never have become friends with these three awesome colleagues, who are in different years, different streams, different social circles, and different content areas than I am (except for French obviously), in the sea of hundreds of education students at U of M.
With them I get to be challenged and pushed in my conceptions and ideas of how school runs at home, what the best way to describe the many facets of Canadian and Manitoban life is, and how to react to new and sometimes uncomfortable cultural differences. With them I got to explore a west coast which is also an Atlantic coast; I got to experience French music videos and French castles for the first time; I get to share my concerns and questions about what we have seen and experienced in our practicum schools here in France; and I get to laugh about the little cultural differences that are so unexpected that no French citizen would even think to prepare us for them (such as toilets in separate rooms from sinks, supper at 8 p.m., pedestrian crosswalks that seem to mean nothing to motorists and red lights that seem to mean nothing to pedestrians).
I am convinced that my learning from this trip will continue to manifest itself in my personal and professional development and learning long after I have returned to Canada. I am so thankful that I have three wonderful, new friends who will be able to understand me as I continue to reflect on how to be the best teacher possible in whichever context I end up.
Read more about the exchange: