Archer Abroad returns with trip to France, Belgium in June 


Photo credit: Lizette Gonzalez

Seniors Helen Solis and Samantha Garibaldi talk about their upcoming trip to Belgium and France. In June 2023, 21 French students will attend a sustainability-focused trip through Archer Abroad.

By Lizette Gonzalez, Features Editor

Archer filles en France. From the Arc de Triomphe to the European Union Headquarters, French students from 10th to 12th grade have the opportunity to take part in an experiential learning experience in France and Belgium.

Archer Abroad allows students in language classes to go to a country that either speaks French, Spanish or Chinese. The mission of the program is to bridge the learning done in classroom to real-life experiences. The last trip Archer Abroad hosted took student to Spain in collaboration with the Spanish department.

This year, the program organized an eight-day course for June 2023 that will allow students to engage with local French-speaking populations. The trip will emphasize food production, urban planning, environmental policies and exploring historical and cultural sites. Twenty-one students were selected for the trip after applying through an online form and signing a declaration of intent in November.

The trip will begin in Paris with visits to UNESCO, Sciences Po Paris and classic sites like the Eiffel Tower. Students will then travel to Normandy on a private bus for a sustainable farm tour and visit Rouen. Students will end the course in Brussels, Belgium and learn more about the European Commissions and tour the city.

This year, Chinese teacher Pei-Ying Gosselin is the Director for the Archer Abroad programs. She said this trip was originally planned for 2020, but, due to the pandemic, the trip was cancelled. However, the itinerary has remained the same, and she said she’s excited this trip goes beyond sightseeing.

“I think it’s very educational for students because this is not just a sightseeing trip — it’s about global education. The students are learning about global education and sustainability and how we [can] make our world better,” Gosselin said. “I think it’s really good opportunity for Archer students to not just learn things in the classroom, but actually experience it.”

World Language Department Chair Travis Nesbitt designed the itinerary in collaboration with educational provider Forum by Prométour. The creation of the course was founded on similar practices of how Archer language courses come to life.

“Any Archer course starts with an essential question that we are trying to answer or an enduring understanding that we hope students walk away from that class with,” Nesbitt said. “We started thinking about potential idea and landed on the question of environmental sustainability. It has interdisciplinary and cross-cultural applications, [and] it’s a topic that we have been studying in class, so we have some knowledge and some vocabulary.”

I think it might be another culture-shock moment, but I feel like I’m ready to experience that. Being able to be in the shoes of a foreigner is also another educational opportunity.

— Helen Solis ('23)

When the trip was announced to students, senior Helen Solis said she knew it was an opportunity she couldn’t ignore. She also said she is nervous to experience a different culture but is looking forward to learning about the world with a different set of eyes.

“It’s a really good opportunity — being able to go to France — and being able to go in-person and see everything that we’ve talked about in class,” Solis said. “The one thing I’m nervous about is being able to fully embrace the culture. I think it might be another culture-shock moment, but I feel like I’m ready to experience that. Being able to be in the shoes of a foreigner is a great educational opportunity.”

Participating students attend mandatory pre-trip meetings with Nesbitt. During these meetings, students learn French vocabulary specific to traveling and sustainability, and they also receive the opportunity for additional cultural preparation.

As Nesbitt said, the theme of sustainability opens the door for interdisciplinary learning. During the trip, students will visit a sustainable manufacturing facility, the Bec Hellouin Permaculture Farm and the prestigious university in Paris: Science Po Paris.

“We are going to be looking at how food is produced, how it’s consumed [and] how it’s distributed, and that’s something we get to do in Paris,” Nesbitt said.  “I’ve also tied into things from my personal life and experience. We are going to go to the school where I went to graduate school and talk to students who are activists in this environmental space.”

Junior Piper Porter said what drove her to apply was the global education focus. She hopes to study abroad in college, so she said this opportunity will allow her an insight into how a study abroad academic program might look like.

“I’m interested in studying abroad in college, so I wanted to see what it would be like to be in a school and an academic setting and environment there,” Porter said.  “I know that in France they are a lot more progressive in so many ways than the U.S. is, so it’ll be nice to see how they’re tackling this issue and seeing what I can adopt in my own life.”

When looking at the future of Archer Abroad, Gosselin said she hopes to open up the program to different departments at Archer. She said the experience of taking what students learn in the classroom into real life is an opportunity she hopes to see more of.

“I think I’ll open it to different departments: history, science, art, math, English — anything. As long as they think they have a strong purpose of education or a purpose that can really benefit our students, I think it’s wonderful,” Gosselin said. “I think the most valuable part of education is integrating this new knowledge we have our students learning everyday and seeing our students experience this in real life.”