CRESTVIEW — Twenty or so students from Noirmoutier, France, will call Crestview home for approximately two weeks in the fall of 2018 when they arrive for an immersive cultural and English language experience.


Meeting Monday morning with Noirmoutier Sister City Committee President René Relandeau and Vice President Gérard Moreau, Crestview High Principal Dexter Day said his school welcomes the educational and cultural benefits Bulldogs receive from the visits.

 “It’s to understand the cultures, to experience the similarities and differences, that is so important,” Day said. “It just helps our students become more well-rounded.”

During their stay, French students from the island community’s two “colleges”— the French intermediate school level that’s the equivalent of American grades 7, 8 and 9 —will live with volunteer host students and their families.

Facilitated by the Crestview Area Sister City Program, such previous exchanges, including visits in 2009, 2012 and 2015, have fostered friendships that continue today.

One French family currently visiting Crestview came following persuasion from their older children, both of whom visited Crestview High, recently retired French teacher Chris Lanoue said.

“Our son, Julien, insisted we should come,” Fabrice Corbrejaud said. “He said we would be well received and would have a wonderful time, and he was right!”

Relandeau said the student exchanges are not just beneficial; they also are increasingly in demand among the island’s students.

“We could bring 40 or more if we had that many (hosts) to receive them,” he said.


Though Crestview High School does not currently have a French teacher — upper-level French language studies are done online — local students’ French ability is not as important for visitors as is living among English-speaking peers and their families.

“They come for the immersion (into American culture),” Relandeau said. “It is important for young people in Noirmoutier to be able to communicate not just in English, but to communicate well.”

Forty-three visitors from Noirmoutier are in town as the local sister city program celebrates the 20th anniversary of the first Noirmoutrin delegation’s visit. Events included the Oct. 15 dedication of the Jardin de Noirmoitier — the Garden of Noirmoutier — to commemorate the communities’ friendship.

Lanoue will work with Crestview High language arts teacher Suein Archie to coordinate the French students’ visit. The school’s former French Club will evolve into a Sister City club to expand its membership and interest school-wide, and will receive the Crestview Area Sister City Program’s support.

Day said he knows first-hand the value of international cultural exchanges, having embarked on a Rotary Club study-abroad program in college.

“I’ve been through this myself,” Day said. “It’s really good, especially the educational part.  I think it will be good for our kids.”