May 24, 2007

SIUC prepares to host students from France

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- When a dozen business students from Grenoble, France, come to Southern Illinois University Carbondale for a visit this summer, one of the first scheduled stops is Wal-Mart.

"They don't always have space to bring everything they need so they plan to get some things here when they arrive," Cheryl Ernst, Center for English as a Second Language exchange program coordinator, said. "They don't have Wal-Mart in France – it's been kept out – so it's kind of a novelty for them. They do know about it, though, because Wal-Mart has kind of a worldwide reputation. The French equivalent is Carrefour Hypermarket."

Ernst said the students are here for the "American experience" and to fulfill a study-abroad requirement from their home university, ESC Grenoble Ecole de Management. While they are here, they will study managerial accounting, brand management and American culture. They will also visit area businesses, enjoy leisure-time activities in Southern Illinois such as the Sunset Concerts, and take side-trips to Metropolis for the Superman Festival and to St. Louis and Chicago.


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There will be several opportunities to interact with the Grenoble students during some of their less-formal activities. The students will visit 17th Street Bar and Grill in Murphysboro at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5, to talk with owner Mike Mills about small business expansion. Reporters and cameras will be allowed into the restaurant during the visit. For further itinerary details and opportunities to meet the students, contact Cheryl Ernst.


"We try to get them to visit a variety of businesses," Ernst said. "For example, they'll visit Southern Illinois Healthcare to see how healthcare is run as a business. Here healthcare is a for-profit business. In France, it isn't."

Other destinations on the itinerary include University Mall, 17th Street Bar and Grill, Blue Sky Vineyards and the SIUC Small Business Incubator in the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center. They will visit Monsanto Co. and Anheuser-Busch and take in a Cardinals' baseball game in St. Louis. In Chicago, they will visit the Federal Reserve Money Museum and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange with some free time left to explore the city on their own. The students will be at SIUC from June 1 until July14.

As much as the students will learn from classroom instruction and site visits, Ernst said she hopes all the students have the opportunity to experience American culture by visiting an American household for dinner at least one night during their visit. She is looking for volunteers to host two or three students for one evening, including the meal, but not as an overnight stay.

"What they do totally depends on the family," she said. "We try to match interests. In the past, we've had students who were interested in horses and we matched them with a family that had horses. We had another group where the students were musicians and they spent an evening with a musical family. They ended up playing music all night – they had a great time. We've had graduate students invite them over, and then they end up as good friends and go out and socialize together. It's a chance for the host to learn about France, and for the students to learn about Midwest America."

Those interested in hosting students for an evening at home should call Ernst at 618/453-6525 or email her at

She is also recruiting American SIUC students to sit in on some American culture classes with the Grenoble students and to participate in discussions. She said the French visitors are eager for any opportunity to interact with students here, to practice the language and to meet new people. To sit in on a class, contact Ernst. The class is 1-3 p.m. on Wednesdays, June 6 through June 27.