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Former Coe instructor connects Cedar Rapids students to France

More than 80,000 students participated in program

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For more than two decades, from the late 70s until 2000, Frenchman and former Coe College instructor Andre Girod bridged the gap between the United States and France with an aggressive foreign exchange education program that involved 80,000 American and French fifth-grade students.

Now Girod has documented the experience in his book, “French-American Class: It’s a long way to France.”

“The City of Cedar Rapids was the first city in America to participate in 1977 and many articles were written at the time,” Girod writes in an email.

In Cedar Rapids the program was called Campus International. He points to his blog for people to read more about it. (Most of it is in French but it does have some interesting caricatures of a Frenchman in the United States.)

Girod became a teacher of French in foreign countries after studying at the Sorbonne. He came to the United States in 1959 as a Fulbright scholar and, in 1965, joined Coe College in Cedar Rapids. By the early 70s he became discouraged by the decline of teaching foreign languages in the United States and began the exchange program.

“French-American Class” is published by Red Lead Press in Pittsburgh and can be ordered in either a 126-page soft cover book for $15 or downloaded as an e-book for $10 by clicking here.

Girod would like program participants to try to reconnect via Facebook, since many French people also use it to stay connected to friends.

If program participants wish to contact Girod, he can be reached by email at jardins.de.magali@gmail.com

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