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France 2017: "The world belongs to our students."

posted on Wed, May 17 2017 11:45 am by Amy B.

Nine students, each from a different Minneapolis Public Schools high school, just returned from an immersive global experience led by Project SUCCESS exploring the history, language and culture of France.

Project SUCCESS designed this unique opportunity for students to foster conversation, connection and learning, allowing them to reflect on their own place in history and discover the significance of exploring different cultures and parts of the world.

At Project SUCCESS, we offer opportunities to each student in every one of our partner schools designed to expand their worldview, broaden their perspectives, build their skills in social-emotional learning, and prepare them for a successful future in the workforce and in life. Educational travel is a proven way to have a lasting impact on students and their success. Children between the ages of 12 and 18 who travel outside of the region where they live do better in school, and as adults, have higher earning potential and annual income than non-travelers. Multicultural learning is also proven to facilitate creativity through complex problem solving and increased awareness – it helps to open students’ minds to other ideas and ways of thinking.

In addition to witnessing the historic election of France’s new president Emmanuel Macron, the students experienced the culture of France through immersive and unique experiences facilitated by Project SUCCESS – including a group cooking class, where students shopped for, prepared and ate traditional French cuisine with the guidance of a local chef.

“We used academic skills all the time as we traveled – math as we did currency conversions, science as we weighed our French ingredients, geography as we mapped out our locations,” said Laura Garcia, Project SUCCESS Director of Programs. “It was so inspiring to see students make those connections to what they’re learning in school. Hector said as we were cooking, ‘This is just like chemistry class!’

Through cooking, they also embraced the French tradition of building relationships over food: “My favorite part of the trip was every time we had meals together, because that was when the bonds were built between us,” said Shaadia, an 11th grader from Patrick Henry.

Immersing themselves in the history of France was a substantial part of their trip. Students visited the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d'Orsay and toured the beaches of Normandy, discussing the historical context of the locations as they traveled.

“Normandy was the most important thing I saw,” said Hector, an 11th grader from Roosevelt. “Seeing all the graves of soldiers who served and died where I was standing, fighting for the safety of others – it made me grateful for where I am in my life. Everything I saw gave me goosebumps.”

Providing students with an opportunity to participate in a global experience through Project SUCCESS not only allows them to bond with one another, but also allows them to further connect with their classmates and family members at home. This cross-cultural experience extends beyond the students on the trip and into the communities where they live and go to school.

The world belongs to our kids,” said Adrienne Diercks, Project SUCCESS Executive Director. “This trip was a chance for them to learn, explore, build confidence, and foster new relationships both around the globe and here at home.”

Choosing France as a location allowed students to practice their French language proficiency, as French is a language offered in the Minneapolis Public School district. It also gave them a chance to experience a new culture completely over the course of just a few days – by tasting its food, seeing its architecture, and learning its history.

Four adults, including Project SUCCESS professional, trained facilitators – and full time Project SUCCESS classroom facilitator, Ben Desbois, who grew up in Paris and Minneapolis – chaperoned the trip. They engaged students in discussions around an in-depth history of France, as well as the current context of the country in a global society and the historic election taking place during their visit.

This France experience was intended to help students develop skills and tools to use immediately upon returning home, but also throughout the rest of their lives. We asked students how they will apply what they learned in France to their lives here in Minneapolis:

  • “This trip inspired me to take more action in my community and has informed me I want to travel more. I now have a bucket list of places I want to go,” said Fardowsa, a 10th grader from Edison. “I know to travel more, I’m going to have to put in hard work – it doesn’t come free. It means finishing high school, going to college. Studying abroad would be great.”
  • “After just one day, the trip has definitely changed my life tremendously. I appreciate and take my responsibilities more seriously now in school, at home, and in life in general,” Shaadia said. “This trip has helped me realize that there is really no barrier big enough to stop you from your dreams. Anything you truly want to do, you can and anything you truly want to accomplish, you can.”
  • “This trip has inspired me, because knowing I can go across the world and experience all of this makes me feel invincible,” Hector said. “Without any of this I wouldn’t have believed I could just go across the world and back, literally. At this point I feel great about my life and I know I can go further and do other great things.”

See additional student reflections in this video from the trip:

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