As globalization brings the world closer together, cultural exchange is clearly of fundamental importance in education. Webb’s foreign language department offers two opportunities for students to immerse themselves in the language and culture of both France and Spain.
The French Exchange Program
The French Exchange program presents a special opportunity for Webb students to experience French culture as they form friendships with French students. The program exists as a partnership with the College St. Etienne in Strasbourg. St. Etienne sends a group of students to Tennessee in the fall who are hosted by Webb families as they visit Webb and explore the region. A group of Webb students, faculty, and parents then travel to France for a unforgettable two weeks of immersion in French culture.
The participants live in host families and explore the region, but more importantly, are able to focus on their French language and learn the customs of a typical French family. Their time with host families may include shopping with their "corres" (correspondent), theme parks, or whatever the host family has planned. Other travels take them to Paris to climb the Eiffel Tower, the battlefield of Verdun and the tower of the centuries-old Notre Dame de Strasbourg cathedral. On the most recent trip, students made a sobering visit to Struhof, France's only concentration camp during World War II.
Salamanca, Spain Summer Program
Through eating paella, visiting el Prado, or watching soccer games on a giant screen in the Plaza Mayor, Webb students have the special opportunity to become fully immersed in Spanish culture. The Webb School offers a three-week trip to Salamanca, Spain every other summer. Students live with a host family in Salamanca and absorb the language, foods, and customs of a traditional Spanish family. Typically, host families have teenagers who will join us on our afternoon outings.
Our students spend two weeks attending classes covering Spanish history, culture, and language. After gathering “debajo del reloj” (under the clock) in the main town square, they spend afternoons exploring Salamanca, sampling its restaurants and museums, or attending sporting events. Weekends are a great chance for further travels as students will take trips with their host family or traveling to nearby cities such as Avila, Segovia, and El Escorial. While Webb faculty accompany our students on these trips two local program coordinators plan all of the excursion and afternoon activities to ensure a unique and authentic Spanish experience.
“Initially, I looked at Spain as my first real opportunity to travel to another country. I looked at myself as a temporary tourist rather than someone who would actually blend into the culture. You really are thrown into a culture with zero English. The benefits are still with me a year into college. I went into the trip with every intention to be a biology major, and now, hugely due in part to the Salamanca trip, I am a Spanish major. You learn how to function in a completely foreign -- both linguistically and culturally -- environment.
You don't just go on a trip to Spain, you get a genuine picture of what it means to be essentially Spanish, especially from staying with a host family, as daunting as it may seem. From the euro to cafes to cathedrals, you experience the anti-tourist Spain. Winning the Euro Cup was my best memory from the trip -- standing in the street surrounded by a whirlwind of red and yellow, flags, and cheering Spaniards really exemplified how great it is to be a part of such a proud, rich culture.” -Hannah Kay Hunt, Class of 2010, currently attending Wake Forest University