Atlanta-Toulouse MOU provides international experience to students [fr]
8 Atlanta high school students and 10 from Toulouse, pilot a three-week college and career exchange program, following an agreement signed last fall between Atlanta Public Schools and the Academy of Toulouse.
The forty-year-old sister-city relationship between Atlanta and Toulouse, France is gaining new traction as technical high school students from Atlanta Public Schools and their French counterparts pilot a new College and Career Exchange Enrichment Program.
The academic program was created in January, following a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which was signed last fall by the Atlanta Board of Education and the Chancellor of Universities, Rector of the Academy of Toulouse. In September 2015, the Academy of Toulouse sent a delegation to meet with APS representatives and visit several of Atlanta’s technical schools, including D.M. Therrell High School, Mays High School, Washington High School, and Atlanta Technical College. Designed to strengthen technical education and training, the MOU provides exposure and cultural awareness to students and teachers through an international experience.
“Exchange programs like this one open the world to students traveling abroad as they experience another culture, gain valuable academic and work skills, and make lifelong friends. Students in both host countries also benefit from interacting with the visitors and discovering how much we have in common. This is exactly the kind of opportunity we want to provide our students,” said Atlanta Board of Education member Cynthia Briscoe Brown, who also sits on the board of the Alliance Francaise d’Atlanta and who was part of the APS delegation sent to Toulouse to visit the participating French technical high schools.
The program was officially launched earlier in May with the arrival of ten French students, who were welcomed by APS for four weeks. The French students were placed in host families and assigned internships with local businesses according to their program requirements.
The Atlanta students will reciprocate the international exchange in June. Eight students from Grady, Douglass, Therrell and North Atlanta High Schools were selected to participate in program this year from June 8 -30, 2016. They will be welcomed by French host families around Metro Toulouse and will attend different high schools during their stay, according to their professional interests.
“This program offers a valuable and unique opportunity for students in technical fields to be exposed to international workforce trends within the framework of a safe, quality aboard experience,” said Alexandre Durand, cultural attaché at the French consulate, which organized a cultural awareness seminar for the Atlanta students. “Not only does it build their cultural awareness and contribute to the Atlanta-Toulouse sister city relationship, but it provides a truly human experience that will be life changing.”
It is hoped that the program will grow to welcome thirty students a year from both Atlanta and Toulouse, and that the MOU will be renewed after its three-year term.