Sharing & Learning: a Cultural Exchange for St. Joseph’s Students

Our trip to France was fantastic!

A few weeks ago, I shared in a blog post that I was headed to France with Erica and Andrew. It was a wonderful trip!

St. Joseph’s staff and Lakota students enjoyed an exchange visit to St. Solange, in Chateauroux France.
Andrew, Maija and Erica had a wonderful trip to France!

Many of the French students thought we would arrive wearing traditional Lakota (Sioux) regalia instead of modern clothes – they were surprised to see us in jeans and


We shared much about South Dakota and the Lakota culture, and the students and staff asked some great questions. Everyone appreciated the dreamcatchers we brought for them, and they all seemed to enjoy trying on some of the regalia. They were also interested in learning what kinds of modern music and video games our kids like and were surprised to learn of the similarities they shared. The younger students had a great time participating in the Circle Dance, learning Lakota words, and making beaded bracelets.

Our hosts introduced us to France’s Berry Region – a beautiful area with amazing culture, music and food! The town, Chateauroux, was lovely and some areas were quite old, with cobblestone streets and amazing architecture.  Some of the sights we were fortunate to see were the Chambord Castle (designed by DaVinci), Europe’s largest zoo, beautiful smaller castles and gardens, an organic goat cheese farm and – best of all – spending time with our host families and children at St. Solange!

Before we departed, the students at St. Solange presented us with gifts of music, poetry, and art in a wonderful celebration which included the benediction of their chapel. The festivities included traditional regional music and food, a visit from the mayor, reporters and lots of fun! We presented the school headmaster with an ironwood buffalo in thanks for their hospitality and generosity during our stay.

The whole day was truly touching; we were humbled by their kindness.

We had a short visit of Paris, the beautiful “City of Lights,” and we were not disappointed. We took a bus tour of Paris’ most visited areas, and went to the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, Sacre-Coeur (which is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus) at Montmartre. We felt this was an important visit, as St. Joseph’s was founded by the Priests of the Sacred Heart!

After a night in Paris, we took the Chunnel to London in preparation for the trip home.

Before we even left the station in Paris, we saw the Queen! She departed from the same train we were taking to England! It was exciting to see the guards in full dress, the reporters, and the Queen’s car.

Once in London, we met up with the group of St. Joseph’s staff and students who were in Germany, giving presentations as we were, to Gymnasium Leonium, in Handrup.

The students appreciated being in an English speaking country and loved the sights of the city of London, riding the “Eye” and seeing “Stomp!’ at the West End.

We all had a wonderful time learning about another culture and way of life. We are especially looking forward to our hosts coming to South Dakota in October to be our guests at St. Joseph’s Indian School!

Thank you for helping St. Joseph’s provide amazing learning opportunities for the Native American children we serve!

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

4 thoughts on “Sharing & Learning: a Cultural Exchange for St. Joseph’s Students”

  1. WOW… what a wonderful opportunity for these students.. I am sure they will remember, and talk about it, for the rest of their lives.. Enjoy the balance of the summer!

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