Fourteen FWCD students and Upper School French Teacher Andréanne Annis
welcomed Jean-Paul Fournier, Mayor of Nîmes, (pronounced NEEM) France, to Fort Worth in February. Annis served as a translator/interpreter
for a Fort Worth Sister Cities International (FWSCI) visit with a French delegation from Nîmes last year. “We welcomed the delegation with a beautiful banner designed by Isabel Garza
[’21], who united the logos and the architectures of both Sister Cities and flowers,” Annis said. “Our students showered them with lovely statements in French about the benefits of uniting these two cities, which provides additional educational as well as cultural opportunities and commerce.”
That visit resulted in the establishment of a formal relationship with FWSCI and Nîmes, and, on February 13, Fournier and Councilwoman Ann Zadeh (stepping in for Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price) formally signed municipal agreements to become Sister Cities. Annis had the privilege of translating throughout the official signing ceremony at the Modern Art Museum. “What an honor to play a small part in such an historic event,” she shared. Nîmes is now Fort Worth’s ninth Sister City. The other are Bandung, Indonesia; Budapest, Hungary; Guiyang, China; Mbabane, Eswatini; Nagaoka, Japan; Reggio Emilia, Italy; Toluca, Mexico; and Trier, Germany.
Fournier, along with an official delegation from Nimes arrived in Fort Worth on February 12, touring all the best Fort Worth has to offer, including a visit to the Fort Worth Stockyards, the Kimbell Art Museum, the Bureau of Engraving and Alcon (due to an interest of Nîmes to develop business relations in the eye care industry).
This partnership came to fruition as the result of a three-year process that started with a visit to Nîmes by a Fort Worth search team in 2017. The newly minted relationship has already proven fruitful, as a youth delegation of 21 high school students from Nîmes also arrived in Fort Worth on February 15 for a 10-day educational exchange hosted by Fort Worth Country Day and the Fort Worth ISD World Languages Institute. Eleven students from Nîmes shadowed FWCD students from February 15-24. Two teachers are also visiting and being hosted by Annis.
Upper School students enjoyed hosting 11 students and two teachers on campus for the two weeks. In addition to Annis, the following students and their families hosted French friends: Sydney Cyprian ’22, Izzy Guiterrez ’22, Karina Cedillo ’20, Faith Darrow ’21, Lauryn Roberts ’21, Mary Elizabeth Mitchell ’22, Kendall Lehman ’22, Karli Reed ’21, Erin Fishman ’21, Andrew Nober ’21 and Henry Lynn ’21.
During their time in Fort Worth, the French students attended classes on campus with their host students and enjoyed trips to the Stockyards (lunch at Risky’s was a must!), the Fort Worth Zoo, the Sid Richardson Museum, AT&T Stadium (no visit to DFW is complete without a tour of “Cowboys Stadium!”), the Sixth Floor Museum to learn more about the JFK assassination, a trip to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, and an au revoir potluck dinner at World Languages Institute. At the end of the week, there were many tears as friendships were forged among all the students.
For Annis, it was an honor to serve on the Nîmes committee and to welcomes exchange students to campus to learn more about American life and Fort Worth. Middle School French Teacher Rob Napier also served on the committee. “Our French-speaking community in Fort Worth is quite vibrant and thankful for more possibilities for our students and the citizens of Fort Worth going to beautiful Nîmes in the future,” Annis said. “It was also such a joy to host our student and teacher guests for two weeks. We created such wonderful memories together including enjoying a cooking class [tacos, etc.] and a great time filled with singing and laughter prior to attending the dress rehearsal of our amazing musical Chicago!”
This exchange endeavor was yet another opportunity provided to FWCD students and families by the Center for International Studies (CIS). “Hosting international guests is a great way for our students and families to develop cross-cultural skills, while being able to project a positive image of Americans to our guests,” said Stephen Blan, Director of the CIS. “Each person is able to put a face to a "foreign" group and develop genuine friendships. Our students certainly forged friendships over these two weeks. I look forward to them keeping in touch.”