St. Cloud Officials Host French High School Students
St. Cloud Mayor Rebecca Borders, Deputy Mayor Russell Holmes, Council Member Mickey Hopper, City Manager Tom Hurt, and City staff welcomed Saint-Cloud, France, high school students visiting City Hall July 13. The visit is part of the Sister City Exchange Program. Borders hosted the 24 students, a student chaperone, and Harmony High School Foreign Language Teacher and Sister City Exchange Program Coordinator Jeannie Clark for about three hours. The visit was scheduled for July 13 to honor Bastille Day, which is observed in France July 14 to commemorate the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789 that marked the beginning of the French Revolution.
“I am so honored to have hosted these bright students and Mme Clark,” Borders said. “It is very important that our future generation learns of cultural differences. When people understand each others’ cultures, they tend to better cooperate and communicate with each other. When this happens, we all wreak the benefits. A program such as this one reinforces my hopes for the prosperity of humanity. It is imperative that people continue to learn about diversity and leave ignorance in the past.”
The purpose of the Sister City Exchange Program is for the students to learn about each others’ cultures, improve on each others’ languages, build friendships, and better understand their sister city. The students expand their cultural horizons and exchange stories about the two cities, including government, history, and traditions.
“This is such a great program for all the students,” said Clark. “The French and American students take turns visiting each other every year and they gain so much culturally, socially, and linguistically. Learning about other cultures makes us all better teachers, mentors, and citizens in our respective countries.”
The French students are provided with lodging by American student hosts and their families in St. Cloud, and they are all able to interact in both languages during the two-week stay. When the trip ends, the French students return to Saint-Cloud, France, a commune (similar to a U.S. city) in the western suburbs of Paris, France. Many have continued their newly established friendships in the United States.