Six French students will travel across the Atlantic to continue their education at Northwest Florida State College for a year starting in August.
The four women and two men are students at the University Technology Institute (IUT) at La Roche-sur-Yon, which is part of the University of Nantes. They were chosen through a competitive selection process to spend their third year of college in NWF’s Bachelor of Applied Science program. They will live with host families and study business, marketing and accounting as third-year students in the BAS program.
NWF State College’s exchange program with IUT and the University of Nantes is associated with the larger, longstanding Sister City relationship between Crestview and the French city of Noirmoutier, which has spanned more than 20 years.
Dr. Jeremy Ribando, chair of NWF State College’s Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts Division, traveled to France in May to meet the six exchange students: Maxime Chardonneau, Marie Garborieau, Noemie Le Roy, Alice Merceron, Sandra Picorit, and Clément Pineau.
To be selected to participate, the French students have to demonstrate high academic performance, write an essay, and interview with a committee of IUT faculty members. They explain how they feel their American experience will benefit their home country and agree to return to finish their education or go to work.
“They’re bright students,” Ribando said. “They place high value on American education.”
One of the distinctive aspects of the exchange program is that the French students not only attend school at NWF State College but also live with local host families.
“We offer the experience of living in a home with a local family,” Ribando said, which provides the students the opportunity to be immersed more completely into American life and culture.
The six students who will arrive in August are the second group to attend NWF State College under the exchange program. In August 2014, three IUT students – Pierre Fonteneau, Pierre Guilet, and Antoine Norrito-Liquiere – came to NWF and studied for a year.
Those three students speak highly of the education they received at NWF. For example, Ribando said that Fonteneau, who is working in an internship program with a Nantes shipbuilding company with the responsibility of coordinating with counterparts in Poland, attributes his hiring to the project management class he took with Dr. Caisson Vickery, a professor in the BAS program. The class helped him to interview successfully and be chosen for the job.
In addition, the English skills they used and improved while living in the local community and studying at NWF have helped distinguish them. They all felt that Professor Ronnie Stanley’s speech class, which forced them to speak English in a public forum, was extremely beneficial, Ribando said.
“They are at a definite advantage for studying in America,” Ribando said. “The jobs they will be able to get are better because they came to study abroad.”
Ribando said future plans for the exchange program include establishing a short-term 10-day exchange for second-year students at NWF along with faculty to travel to France so that “we can introduce our students to them.”
Joining Ribando on his trip to France in May were two NWF State College dance instructors, Joe Taylor and Kelly Murdock. Dance exchanges have taken place involving dancers from NWF and those across the ocean for the last several years. Taylor and Murdock taught dance classes at a French dance academy during their visit.
Ribando says the ongoing international exchanges with the Noirmoutier area of western France adds richness to the college and the local area.
“It’s good for our community,” he said.
PHOTO L-R: Clément Pineau, Sandra Picorit, Noemie Le Roy, Alice Merceron, Maxime Chardonneau, and Marie Garborieau.