French Students Experience Life at Trinity

French StudentsWhile stories of Trinity students learning and serving overseas abound, this month the campus welcomed 18 visitors from Notre Dame de la Paix, a college in Lorient, France.

The visit was arranged by Dr. Mauricio Nava Delgado, assistant professor of Spanish. He, along with Professor of English Yann Cargoet from Notre Dame, envisioned the cross-cultural learning experience based on a similar program they established at Bethel College in Minneapolis in 2004.

“The French students are very French, and the American students are very American. This cross-cultural exchange opens people’s minds,” said Cargoet. “The experience doesn’t last two weeks. It goes far beyond.”

For Cargoet, his colleague, and the 16 students from Notre Dame they accompanied, the two-week schedule was packed with activities on and off-campus. Students visited the communication arts, education psychology, and Spanish classes; local and Chicago area businesses, such as Sofitel; and popular Chicago sites including Navy Pier and Willis Tower.

Many of the Notre Dame students study business and speak some English and Spanish. Families from Calvary Church of Naperville and as well as Trinity faculty and staff hosted the students during their stay. Drs. Craig and Rhoda Mattson, professors at Trinity, included their hosted students in the Family’s Easter celebration and took them to a Sox game.

“Their desire to know life in the United States was nothing less than avid,” said Craig Mattson, professor of communication arts. “Whatever the schedule, wherever our busy lives took them, they were up for it.”

The students also had the opportunity to interact with Trinity students during classes, Outcry worship service, and a joint soccer practice with Notre Dame players and Trolls.

Nava looks at the program as a “port of entry” for various opportunities for Trinity students, including the possibility of including a brief visit to Brittany as part of the College’s existing Semester in Spain.