Bonjour! Greetings from Paris!
Since my arrival here in Paris last Saturday, I have been fully immersed into French culture. Even though I do not speak French and was at first very concerned about communicating with my host family in their native language, my experiences in Paris thus far have been so meaningful that a language barrier seems to be no longer an issue.
Living with a French family is an integral part of my experience here in France. Romain Denuit is my French host brother, and his family are the ones I am staying with during my Senior Project. He is a senior at Notre Dame Des Missions High School this year. He loves Classical music and plays the piano very well as both of his parents are professional musicians playing viola and cello. Practicing the piano and going to a music academy after school every day, Romain works very hard and aspire to study piano in college and as his profession. I find his love of music and talent in piano especially appealing to me as our common interest in music has helped us to bond and be open-minded to each other. Though my reaching out to him and his family has helped us to get to know more about one another, our spending time together talking about music has definitely inspired me to form a new relationship with a friend from another country. And I am grateful for that.
For the past three days, I have attended Romain’s classes at Notre Dame Des Missions High School. All of his classes were very interesting to me, but I thought they could be boring at the same time for many students as teachers in French high schools often lecture in the classroom as opposed to discussion-based classes at Westtown School. In Romain’s philosophy class, for example, the teacher was lecturing about some profound questions regarding happiness (if I understood French correctly). This class has drawn my attention in particular because philosophy is not a common subject taught in American high schools; I was amazed that French high school students take philosophy classes, and it is a graduation requirement. Undoubtedly, my favorite class so far has been English class, where I actually understood what teachers were talking about. French Students were debating about the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights and reading Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. In French literature class, students were reading the first president of France, Charles de Gaulle’s memoir as his book is a required reading for all high school students in France. By visiting these classes with Romain, I came to my own conclusion that unlike schools in the United States, French high schools are very similar to those in my home country. Students in South Korea take many lecture-based classes, and teachers come into classrooms rather than students moving to different classrooms. Due to this similarity, I felt more adapted and comfortable being at the French high school. Furthermore, I once again realized how unique and valuable Westtown education has been for my life in the United States. Schools in France or in South Korea seem to be the places where students go in the morning for the purpose of studying, yet education at Westtown School has been a true combination of academics, a variety of outdoor and extracurricular activities, and community service. I am very glad that the classes I have attended not only has helped me to understand French educational system but also raised my understanding of cultural and educational differences among many different countries.
My Senior Project here in France has been truly amazing and meaningful. People I have met and places I have visited explain to me why Paris is a unique European city. For my next blog, I will be writing about the places I have visited in Paris so far such as les Champs Elysees, l’Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, and l’Hotel de Ville. Westtown students who have come to Paris with me are also enjoying their time here. As I have learned and discovered so much about Paris for the last few days, I look forward to even better days for the rest of my staying here with Romain and his family and friends.
A plus! (“See you” in Francais)
Dennis (Chan Min) ‘ 11