Cultural experiences can be fascinating, offering people a glance into the day-to-day lives of others. They can shed light on the differences between simple things; say, shopping for groceries in California versus Egypt, or finding transportation in Laos versus Spain.
To an outsider, these differences can define cultures. They can categorize them as unique or even strange. Though, at the same time, recognizing the differences and similarities between cultures can break barriers and allow one to draw connections between their life and others’ lives. One could even go so far as to say that these experiences bring people to terms with their place in the world.
Recently, Oakton High School participated in a cultural experience: a program where French students and teachers came to stay in the United States for a week. “The main purpose of the program is so the French students can experience the culture of the United States, and not just through seeing the monuments and learning about the country’s history, though they did have this opportunity as well. It’s more about being able to experience the culture on a personal level,” explains Kate Bigely, an Oakton student who housed a French student. This means that French students gained insight on and visited places that enabled them to experience everyday life in the United States.
These students came largely to experience a new culture. In addition, their visit enabled students to put their language skills into action and try their best to communicate. “It’s one thing when you practice in class, and then when you’re in real life… you need to adapt,” explains Oakton French teacher Madame Brottet.
Madame Brottet is aiming to make this experience an actual cultural exchange by sending people from Oakton’s department to France in the future. “I had only good feedback, so that’s why we really want to try to do something where we go and they come,” she explains. Reviewers rave of the experience. “It’s a wonderful way of doing it because you are with someone who is the same age as you, so you see what they do and you see what you do, and I think that’s great,” says Madame Brottet. Experiences like this can be quite eye-opening; they have the power to intrigue and excite, fostering connection and even allowing one to expand their worldview when they see the way in which others go about their daily lives. Oakton students are lucky to have opportunities to do this.
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