France added to global destinations for Tallwood High students

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Tallwood High School students in Tiananmen Square, Beijing.(Courtesy Virginia Beach City Public Schools)

Tallwood High School students in Tiananmen Square, Beijing in March 2016.(Courtesy Virginia Beach City Public Schools)

Tallwood High School added France to the list of global destinations for its foreign exchange program this year.

Ten Tallwood High School students will travel to northwestern France and attend Lycee Le Brun school in Coutances from Oct. 5-15. They are some of the 61 students in the school’s Global Studies World Languages Academy (GSWLA) who will travel to Spain, Jordan, China, Northern Ireland and France this school year. The exchange program began in 2009 and also partners with schools in the Philippines; the partnership in Jordan was made just last year.

“It really gives the students so much more than they can get from a textbook, really opens their minds and hearts and makes them appreciate other people,” Rebecca Gurley, academy coordinator for the GSWLA, said in a phone interview.  

The Tallwood students, whose ages range from 15 to 18, live with host families and make excursions to cultural sites, Gurley said. Their meal and travel expenses are covered by the foreign school. Tallwood is also hosting students from Spain and Ireland this month.

Nicole Carpenter, a Tallwood senior, travelled to Spain with the program in March, and still appreciates the opportunities she had there.

“It was an amazing experience,” Carpenter said in a phone interview. “To be more immersed into the culture and to have such an educational experience there while just having a wonderful life experience in general.”

Tallwood students must be in 10th grade to participate in the program. Last year, 74 percent of the GSWLA seniors travelled abroad with the program, Gurley said. Upon completion of the trips, students have reported in surveys given by Tallwood that they’ve developed a worldview, gaining a greater global awareness and appreciation.

Airfare, which ranges from $1,000 to $1,400, is paid for by the parents of traveling students.

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