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Woodward Hosts Culture Guest

As a tour guide for the American Council for International Studies (ACIS), Angélique Vincent has gotten to know Woodward Academy well by serving as a guide to student groups during their travels in Europe since 2011. Recently, she paid her first visit to us, making the journey from her home in Paris to Woodward's Main Campus as a culture guest to expand students' horizons through direct contact with another world culture and language.

During her two-week stay, she taught French classes in the Middle and Upper Schools and lectured on art history, teaching students about the Louvre Museum (with a special focus on masterpieces and how historic events shaped the artworks of the 14th to 19th centuries); the Musée d'Orsay's collection of 19th century artwork that led to modern art; and the influence of African art on Picasso's first cubist masterpiece "Les Demoiselles D'Avignon." She spoke to Chaplain Katie O'Dunne's religion class on Buddhism and her experience living with Tibetan Buddhist monks in India, taught creative writing students about Gothic cathedrals, worked with choral students on their French pronunciation, spoke to Patti Herring's dance students about the history of ballet from Louis XIV to 1870, and analyzed visual media and the impact of photography on society with a photography class.

Educated in Paris and London, Angélique holds two degrees—one from the Académie de Paris-Versailles and one from Royal Holloway, University of London. She completed coursework on Parisian architecture and history at the École du Louvre. For 25 years, she has served as a tour guide for ACIS, and she continues to conduct tours for ACIS as well as private cultural tours. She speaks French, English, Spanish, Italian, and some Hebrew. For the past 10 years, she has traveled annually to India for her charity, Solidarijeune, involving young people in constructing an entire building with a kitchen and dining hall at a Tibetan monastery called Karsha in the Himalayas.

For Angélique, traveling is not a hobby but an "art de vivre," or way of life. She has traveled many times to every country in Western Europe, the United States, Canada, the Middle East, and Asia, and she spends time every year in Israel. Last summer, she traveled with the Upper School choir in Europe. During her visit to Woodward, she met with choir students to plan a May 2017 trip as well as with eighth graders to plan for a European trip during spring break 2016.

Beyond the Gate spoke with Angélique about her visit to the Academy:

BG: Now that you have spent time with us here, what are your impressions of Woodward Academy?

AV: The quality of the education here is amazing, truly. Each teacher is very individual. They're very qualified. They think outside the box, and they make the children think. There also is a Woodward aura about them. They are so enthusiastic. They love these children, and they're dedicated to their jobs. Educating students is not just about shaping their minds. It's educating them to be good human beings.

BG: What are your thoughts on our students?

AV: The children are so fabulous. They have really clever questions and a good sense of humor as well. I have visited other independent schools in the U.S., including schools in California and Pennsylvania, and I would say Woodward is the best. There is a Woodward culture. The school allows students to grow and to be what they need to be, with a lot of care. There is a good balance of academics and caring. This is how happy and good human beings are made.

BG: Do you have any thoughts to share on travel as a component of education and of life?

AV: Once a young girl from Woodward asked me: 'Angélique, don't you ever get lost?' I answered jokingly: 'Sweet pea, you can never get lost as long as you walk on earth, so my love, never be afraid of traveling anywhere.' She smiled, she understood, and I realized at that very moment why I was a tour manager: For these unique, magical, and beautiful instants when one truly connects with another individual. My job as a tour guide is to build solid bridges among cultures, countries, and religions. In my opinion, the difference between a good guide and an amazing one is that a good guide gives you good memories about your trip while an amazing one gives you life-changing memories. I do my best every time to be in the second category! That's why any trip, anywhere, is always beneficial. Travel really opens your mind and your heart to differences and, therefore, makes you see them positively. It gives you not only a better education but also subtle knowledge about yourself that can only be revealed by travel. To allow your children to travel is to allow them to learn and to grow. In my opinion, it is one of the best gifts parents can give to their children in life, after life itself.

Ms. Vincent's visit was sponsored by the H. Bruce McEver Visiting Artists program at Woodward Academy. During her visit, she was hosted by Upper School Choir Director Suzanne Woodruff. For more information about opportunities for student travel, explore our Global Connections.

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