"Those who improve with age embrace the power of personal growth and personal achievement and begin to replace youth with wisdom, innocence with understanding, and lack of purpose with self-actualization." ~ Bo Bennett
As session 1 of the Language and Culture program in Toulouse wraps up, it is time to reflect on the ways in which we've grown.
At the beginning of our program, I had blogged about the growth we should expect to see in ourselves. Nearly four weeks later, I am reporting back by featuring individual students and their perceptions of how they grew throughout their time in Toulouse.
Spotlight on Valerie. Hailing from Chicago, Valerie faced perhaps one the biggest language hurdles, having never before studied or been exposed to French. After a month in France with CIEE's Language and Culture program, she talks about how transformational the experience was, not only in terms of language skills but also with regards to understanding her own family background.
Meet Bethany. From Monterey, California, Bethany talks about becoming more responsible and independent in managing her committments and her money as well as improving her French language skills.
Meet Amyaa. Hailing from North Carolina, Amyaa discusses how CIEE provided a safe environment where she could become more mature and confident.
Meet Sophie. From Ogden, Utah, Sophie discusses how this experience made her more confident in herself and able to reach out to others and make friends easier.
Meet Kat. Hailing from Houston, TX, Kat talks about how she's much more independent now and able to make her own decisions.
Meet Simcha. Originally from Brazil and having moved to the U.S. two years ago, Simcha discusses her growth with regards to her French language skills.
Meet Denisse. Hailing from Chicago, Denisse talks about becoming more independent and self-reliant. She describes this experience as a "jump towards adulthood".
Meet Frances. Originally from Evanston, IL, she credits the language and culture barriers she faced as the catalyst for growth in her ability to deal with conflict and difficult situations that may arise.
Meet Tajhay. From San Diego, CA, his growth consisted in acquiring more laguage skills and becoming more sociable.
Meet Isaiah and Felix. Originally from Colorado, Isaiah discusses linguistic and academic growth. From North Carolina, Felix talks about becoming more independent.
Meet Precious and Yasmin. Hailing from San Diego, Precious talks about her growth with regards to her confidence in speaking French. Yasmin, from Seattle, discusses how exposure to different perspectives and interacting with people from a variety of racial and socioeconomic backgrounds has broadened her worldview.
Meet Reyana and Brooklyn. Reyana, from Austin, Texas, discusses becoming more sociable. Originally from Louisiana, Brooklyn talks about learning about and respecting other cultures.
Meet Samuel. Hailing from Austin, Texas, Samuel discusses unexpected growth, as he solidified his moral thinking through comparing American and French cultures.
Thanks to their interactions with their host families, peers, teachers, program leaders and local Toulousains, students became more confident and independent, both in terms of their language skills and their ability to manage their own lives. Living abroad, away from one's comfort zone and away from everyone they know at home, is a catalyst for growth. Growth is inevitable as students explore and expand their own personal and cultural boundaries. That growth comes through interacting with new people and ideas, and sometimes the growth we see is not exactly what we expected to see, but...
At the end of the day, CIEE's Language and Culture programs are all about GROWTH... and a lot of growth can happen in a month!