From January 13 to 20, Saint Ann’s families were the most incredibly gracious hosts to eighteen French students from Simone Veil Lycée, the Grasse-Valbonne school that is going to receive our Saint Ann’s students for part of the spring trip to France.
Still reeling from the Charlie Hebdo events, the French students found in the Saint Ann’s community an understanding and an openness of mind which deeply touched them. A few comments I overheard about our “space”: on the red steps, waiting to leave school to go explore the city, students were saying they actually would not mind staying in class the whole day instead of going out, so thrilled they had been by the morning classes they had just attended; they could not wait till the next morning classes to see Othello performed at his best and have once more the experience of our art studios. They also were already planning on coming back to New York, and their families were oh, so “cool”.
So it was an amazingly rich week packed with attending classes, exploring all the cultural riches New York has to offer, from music to theater to home-made brunches (with a full demonstration of how to assemble a truly New York bagel, thank you Mike D.!), to visits to the Page One meeting of The New Times (thank you Sandra!). Let me just say our hosting families, our faculty, our administration and all the people involved (thank you Amra!), have once more earned the eternal gratitude of the French: from lovingly caring for the sick (the cold New York winter might not be the best time to visit, especially if you come from the south of France), to sharing with them culinary, sport, musical, and theatrical experiences, to carpooling and offering endless support, our Saint Ann’s families demonstrated once more their solidarity and generosity of spirit. They made a home away from home for those French children, whose starry-eyed, wonder-filled faces as they left our school were very eloquent: they definitely had a glimpse of Saint Ann’s vision.
They were sad to leave but looking forward to welcoming our students during the upcoming immersion of the spring French trip. They were ready to be the “French families.”
Romance Language Department Chair