Editor’s note: With funding from the MacJannet Foundation, each year Les Amis du Prieuré de Talloires provides scholarships to students living around Lake Annecy to spend four weeks attending the English summer program at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. Four students were chosen last summer: Quentin Ramillon and Manon Belleville are high school students at the Lycée Louis Lachenal at Argonay, north of Annecy. Both hope to become engineers. Lena Leray and Justin Derobert are high school students at the Lycée Bertholet in Annecy. Two accounts of their 2016 Tufts experience appear below.
For my first trip out of Europe, I couldn’t hope for greater memories. This scholarship gave me the opportunity to live an experience I wouldn’t be able to accomplish myself. The just right balance between classes in the morning and activities in the afternoon helped us to learn more about the American culture as well as other students’ culture. Each subject paved the way to intercultural discussions that were extremely rewarding.
The exchange even extended into culinary culture when we shared a typical dish from the Saudi region—sitting on the floor, eating with our hands, as the Saudi tradition has it.
Then we had the chance to go to New York City. Each day we were there fascinated me, but one of the most spectacular places was Times Square. We went there at night, and from the moment we got out of the subway, we were astonished by all the lights. In the middle of the night, we were illuminated as if it was the day.
I could write for hours on end about all that this voyage provided me. Nevertheless, what I can say is that it was so far the best summer of my life.
Friends all over the world
I landed in a country very different from France, and it was the first time I had visited another continent, so I had an idealized vision of the United States. I had the Hollywood movies in mind, but the reality was quite similar. I arrived in a huge and wonderful campus, with a fitness center, a great swimming pool, an extraordinary library. The Tufts Medford campus was like a small town, and a paradise for a student, and for me: I could do sports every day, besides studying.
The most interesting point of the program was the discovering of other cultures. I was in the U.S., but thanks to this program, I was also in Serbia, in Japan, in Brazil, in China, in Italy, in Taiwan, etc. I slept in a room with a student from Saudi Arabia, and I had the chance to talk to him, to debate with him, and to stay in touch with him today. As a result of meeting so many people, today I have friends from all over the world.
The courses each morning offered an opportunity to learn from each other, to exchange, and to show the differences of our cultures. We all learned from the American culture, but the classes truly differ from the French habit: Since we were only 11 per class, it was a sort of dialogue with the teacher, and each of us had the obligation to rule the class at least once.
In class, we talked a lot about the American election. I had a teacher who supported Donald Trump, and it was interesting to talk to him, but we were all very shocked by his speech: He denied climate change and the theory of evolution—this is a point of view we don’t have in France (blessedly, maybe).
For one of my homework assignments, my classmates and I had to conduct a survey of people in Boston about their thoughts on the American election, capital punishment, and Europe. We all reached the same conclusion: American society is deeply divided, as we saw in the American election.
What I have here are memories of a lifetime, and they are meant to last probably forever. I plan to see some friends I met next summer. Thank you, Tufts!