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Orchestrating Cultural Exchanges Near and Far

The class surrounds teacher Odile Dewar and guests Fabiola Thebaud-Kinder and Jean Coriolan, who assisted with a Haitian cultural exchange.

Jean Coriolan, left, assists LBHS teacher Odile Dewar, right, contact a school in Haiti led by his cousin, allowing the students to converse over Skype.

Laguna Beach High School’s French teacher Odile Dewar instills Francophile culture in her classroom by tapping resources wherever she finds them.

While attending a meeting of French speakers in San Diego last fall, Dewar overheard hotel employees speaking French and befriended Haitian-born Jean Coriolan, who became a liaison for a classroom project.

Dewar directed her senior class to design Laguna Beach-themed holiday cards with greetings written in French. Coriolan’s father, who lives in Orlando, Fla., would send them to Ecole Mixte de Petit-Gôave, a school in Haiti’s Petit-Gôave.

The class surrounds teacher Odile Dewar and guests Fabiola Thebaud-Kinder and Jean Coriolan, who assisted with a Haitian cultural exchange.

The class surrounds teacher Odile Dewar and guests Fabiola Thebaud-Kinder and Jean Coriolan, who assisted with a Haitian cultural exchange.

Fabiola Thebaud-Kinder, left, and teacher Odile Dewar

Fabiola Thebaud-Kinder, left, and teacher Odile Dewar

The Haitian students were thrilled by the cards and enthusiastically drafted Coriolan to facilitate a Skype call to Laguna through his cousin, Frantzy Saintilien, director of the Haitian school. And students from both schools dreamed of a visit in the future.

In the meantime, Dewar invited Laguna Beach resident Fabiola Thébaud-Kinder, also from Haiti, to make a presentation on the history and culture of Haiti to her class in preparation for their AP French exam.

The students’ experience came full circle when Kinder described a French colonial law over slave management that was first read and posted in Haiti’s Petit-Gôave, where their Skype buddies reside.

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