French-student visit encourages a cultural-exchange

Potential foreign-exchange students toured Tulsa Community College Southeast Campus in late November to achieve a cross-cultural exchange between the communities of Amiens, France and Tulsa. The French students walked through the campus, experiencing extracurricular activities that are often not offered in French schools including Theater and Art. The French student visit is part of Tulsa’s relationship with Amiens, Tulsa’s French Sister City.                                          

 A French student could gain a lot at TCC while enriching the diverse atmosphere of the various campuses. U.S. history professor teaching in Amiens, Aurelian Chapolard, says “Coming to TCC could help them get involved into the American Way of life, and into a student life situation.” 

French schools often lack that student-professor relationship that encourages debate and a personal connection between the class and the professor. Instead, they tend to treat the student-professor relationship in a more formal manner turning the classroom into a direct information transfer from professor to the student and questioning and discussion can be discouraged.

Students read, write, and test on nearly every subject they would take.

French schools can be strict and impersonal envioroments.

“The school culture in France is quite strict and rigid  … For example, I do not allow my students to sit at the beginning of the hour before I have a complete silence in the class,” explains Professor Chapolard.

It is often not expected for professors to build personal relationships with their students, although, “you have a new generation of teachers trying to create more links and be more worried about their students, at least it is what I try to create as an atmosphere in my classes,” says Aurelian Chapolard

Both cultures have their pros and cons when concerning education and the French students seemed “impressed by the campus, by the small size of the class, by the involvement of the teachers they met,” adds Chapolard.

“I really like how the learning is individual-focused and how easy it is to get in touch with your professors.”   Julie Podsiadlo-Kins, a future nursing major and French student.

In France, extracurricular activities are available outside the education body whether that would be at the university or high school. Also, classes tend to focus on traditional scholarly subjects similar to history, science, math, and social studies, instead of certain classes that may be offered in American schools like art, music, or sports.

 Although, high schoolers often join groups outside school to enjoy these activities.

The French students study US History in France in the English language and many of them speak English with great competency.

However, America can give them an opportunity to experience American culture and get a feel for the American way of life.

“I still keep some great and amazing memories of the time I shared with students and professors here in Oklahoma,” says Chapolard.

Julie Podsiadlo-Kins comments, “My goal would be to learn about the new culture and to live in the new culture.

 Stereotypes often pervade ad overtake our imaginations of various foreign cultures. Leading to false views of people who are deemed different or peculiar.

“Living in a foreign country is the best way to fight these stereotypes,” Chapolard emphasizes.

“I think sharing students is a very good way to help both the French and the Americans to understand each other.” Going deeper into the culture and history surrounding the mode of thought can be a great way for  people to truly appreciate the values of another.

“Amiens and Tulsa could share so much more than just students.”