I work in a French International Baccalaurate School in the San Francisco Bay Area founded in 1967. It covers elementary, middle, and high school grades. It has three campuses: a primary campus and a secondary campus in San Francisco and a primary campus in Sausalito in Marin County. The school allows students to study for the French baccalauréat and the American high school diploma. The program is based on the French national curriculum, augmented by courses in English, American History, American and English literature, and Visual Arts. All subjects other than English are taught in French. Nowadays, the approximate distribution of nationalities among the students is 50% American, 40% French and 10% Other (Mostly Spanish – Chinese – Russian). There are many students holding dual nationalities.
Cultural Activity #1
The first activity carries on throughout the whole School year 2016-2017, a cross-cultural activity with the Lycée François Andreossy in Castelnaudary, France. It involves High school students (10th and 11th graders on each side), shown in the picture below.
Students are working on renewable and sustainable energies. Each class has started presentations (videos) on types of energy in France and in California, and we are going to send them to each other. The aim is to compare the different politics of each area (France and California) in terms of energy management.
Most of my LFSF students have never gone to France. In order to be bicultural, it is important for them to understand the way of thinking of French people through various subjects. Most of my French colleague’s students don’t know anything about the USA. My French colleague and I thought it would be interesting for them to compare with what they know, and also, it would be more attractive to work on such a great country that they would like to visit.
Cultural Activity #2
The second activity involves U.S student dialogue with students in France. To communicate, we use Skype, emails and videos. The project goes on throughout the whole school year between 28 students of a French Middle School (9th graders) of Southwest France and 15 students in my 11th grade class.
We are currently working on the Centennial of World War I. It is an inter-degree project as my 11th graders (High school) are working with 9th graders (Middle school in France), who are going to work with our 5th graders (Primary School). They all study World War I in their curriculum.
The subject is the entry of the United States of America in World War I (1917), under the prism of arts. My students are doing presentations (videos) about American artists (Authors, painters, film makers) who worked on World War I and its impact on populations (See picture). The work could be a virtual traveling exhibition in French schools.
This project is part of a memorial for soldiers who gave their life during World War I. It is essential to commemorate these years in order to keep fraternal relationships between France and the US.
Cultural Activity #3 – for INTERNATIONAL or BACCALAUREATE Middle and High School teachers
My third experience will be conducted in a nearby school, A. Lincoln HS, our partner school in Spring 2017, in San Francisco involving 10th graders of my school and 10th graders of A. Lincoln HS, our partner High School.
I am organizing an exchange study on the subject of Rights and Duties, through the Declaration of Independence of the USA and the Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme et du citoyen (DDHC). The students of both schools are mainly going to work on Equality and Liberty (Research, posters, power point) in each country, France and the United States of America. Then, the students of both schools will meet in our school (Around May, 2017) and debate on the two concepts. It will be interesting to notice that both Equality and Liberty don’t always mean the same things in our two countries, although we both live in a Democracy. The debate will be videotaped and edited by students and published on the Cordell Hull Foundation website.
Simultaneously, the Americans have just elected a new president and in May, 2017, French people will elect their new president. So it could be another subject we could link to what was organized previously.
It will benefit students of both countries, France and the United States of America, in order to know each other’s culture and politics. For them, to understand that the Declaration of Independence is the root of the DDHC is essential and makes sense to the French Revolution and the History curriculum they study. At the same time, it will be a very good exercise to practice each other’s language.