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The “Toulouse” Experience

By Jen Bodine, Hannah Reddick, and Lauren Hinkle


Market at St. Giron, Ariege


A good professor helps you find something you have a passion for, and then says – go! That’s the concept behind SIT’s (School for International Training) focus on independent study projects. In the course of the semester, there are three projects, each one growing in size and freedom of topic. When it came to choosing a focus for the final project, Hope’s students chose three completely different paths. Jen Bodine’s (’03) love for photography (which had been well served by nights in Paris and days in the Alps) led her to study how photos shape our images of a culture. She spent her time interviewing French individuals and American students on their reactions to French photography. Hannah Reddick’s (’04) desire to become an ESL teacher led her to spend her days in the high schools of Toulouse, learning how the French teach English. She even had the opportunity to teach her own lesson on American slang in a French class. Lauren Hinkle (’04) left Toulouse to spend a couple weeks in the Taizé community in Burgundy, trying to discover if its legend of reconciliation was a current reality. After two months of adjusting to and learning about French culture, society, and language, we were given four weeks to research and write, continually encouraged to put far more emphasis on experiences and people than on books. As our time in Toulouse drew to an end, it became evident that our projects, reflecting our individual passions, had led us to enjoy very different experiences and form unique memories of “notre séjour en France.”