NICEVILLE — Pierre Guilet's pastimes include soccer, cinema and music. Pierre Fonteneau practices judo and enjoys surfing and hip hop music, and Antoine Norrito-Liquiere likes climbing, video games and cooking.
Their interests are as varied and similar as those of any other Northwest Florida State College student.
But with one difference.
Rather than hailing from Okaloosa and neighboring counties, the men must cross an ocean to begin the school year.
They are the first students to attend NWFSC under an agreement finalized in March with the University of Nantes’ La-Roche-sur-Yon campus.
The students will study under NWFSC’s Bachelor of Applied Science program in Management and Supervision, according to the college’s Dr. Jeremy Ribando, who finalized the agreement begun under now-retired Dr. Cliff Herron.
The exchange program and the NWFSC show choirs’ biennial performances in Noirmoutier-en-l’Île resulted from the 19-year Sister Cities International relationship between Crestview and Noirmoutier, which is offshore from Nantes.
AMERICAN HOME LIFE
To complete the French students’ experience, the college seeks local host families to house and integrate them into American culture.
“Hosting is a wonderful opportunity to share our culture with a college student from another country while exposing your family to an international experience without leaving home,” Ribando stated in an information packet. “Through your host son, you learn about another culture’s customs, food, language and perspectives.”
The French students, who speak English, have their own health insurance and spending money, according to Ribando.
“These students reflect the traits and qualifications we seek, such as emotional maturity and stability, a good sense of humor, an optimistic attitude, adaptability, common sense and capacity to rise to challenges of an exchange,” he stated.
EXPERIENCES BEYOND ACADEMICS
“I'm looking forward to coming to Florida,” Pierre Fonteneau said. “I would really like to live with Americans, learn about their customs and habits and, of course, become fluent in English.”
A fan of American football, he looks forward to learning the sport and appreciating it through his host family's eyes.
“I would like to try typical American sports like baseball or football,” Pierre Guilet said. “I am a soccer coach in France, so I will look to volunteer in a (soccer) club.”
He has another sports goal to achieve during his visit: “During this year in the U.S.A., I really want to see a baseball match in the atmosphere of an American stadium," he said.
Pascale Liquiere-Norrito, speaking for her son, Antoine, who was traveling in Japan, said he has wanted to experience American culture for many years.
He especially looks forward to immersing himself in his host family’s home life, she said, getting to know his host brothers and sisters, and introducing his host family to French cuisine.
“They are excited about studying at NWFSC, staying with an American family, learning American culture, and gaining mastery of their English language skills,” Ribando said.
Responsibilities: Treat your exchange student like one of your family. Exchange students live according to family rules and schedules. Integrate the student into the family, including sharing chores and responsibilities.
Finances: Students have their own spending money
Accommodations: Ideally, the student should have his own room, but can share with a male student of approximately the same age
Activities: Hosts are not expected to be tour guides, but should welcome their guest to experience typical family outings and activities.
Health: Students have health and accident insurance and would pay any deductibles if health care is needed.
Liaisons: NWFSC officials will provide contact information and serve as a local liaison between families and the students.
Arrival: The French students will arrive around the middle or end of August. They may go home during winter holidays or may opt to remain with their American hosts to observe our holiday traditions.
Contact Dr. Jeremy Ribando, firstname.lastname@example.org or 729-6073, to learn more about hosting one of three French students studying for the 2014-15 academic year at Northwest Florida State College.