Higher learning

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Greencastle students to spend time studying in Europe

By JASON MOON, Assistant Editor

Savannah Provine fidgets as if she's nervous.

Five minutes later, the fidgeting stops. Her friend, Emma Hazel walks in, seemingly grinning ear-to-ear.

Hazel's smile practically jumps off her face and Provine seems to catch it midair and starts to wear it herself.

No one can blame the two Greencastle High School juniors for being so happy.

"We get so giddy when we talk about it," Provine said. "We're pretty close."

Both get excited about knowing they will leave Putnam County in June for a seven-week trip to Europe.

Provine will spend time in Brest, France, while Hazel will be in Cuidad Real, Spain.

The two earned the right to take the trips after taking a test through the Indiana University Honors Program in Foreign Languages for high school students.

Provine said her test, all in French, included analysis of stories and listening to French conversation. Hazel's test, all in Spanish, was similar.

After taking the test and passing, the two applied for the program and then had to go through an interview process.

Approximately 30 high school students travel to one of seven cities spanning the globe, including cities in France, Germany, Mexico and Spain. The program has been offered since 1962 and is intended for high school students to learn both more about the language of the country as well as the culture.

Provine said she found out about the opportunity from GHS French teacher Amy Berry.

"(Berry) just sort of asked us one day if any of us were interested in taking the test," Provine said. "I guess I was the only one interested that day."

Provine said she has been speaking French since she was 3.

"My mom spoke French," she said, adding that her introduction to the language included songs and small sayings.

Hazel knew a little about the opportunity prior to taking the test. She said former Greencastle student Carolyn English took part in the program two years ago.

"We were aquaintences," Hazel said. "This popped up and I was like, 'sure, I'll try.'"

Hazel was at a restaurant in Plainfield when she got a call from GHS Spanish teacher Pat Gottschalk, informing her she would be leaving for Cuidad Real, Spain, on June 8.

"I started jumping around when I found out," Hazel said.

When Provine learned she would be leaving for Brest, France, on June 7, she immediately called her father, who she said later told her he thought he was speaking to a porpoise during the conversation.

After the friends learned they were both making the trip, they decided to stay together one evening, talking to each other in French and Spanish, confusing not only themselves, but the others around them.

Both will stay with a host family and will take courses. Provine said the program offers a 15-minute course on phonics each day as well as classes on culture, grammer, communication and literature. In addition, both will have to take part in a physical activity once a week.

Provine was tutored by Jessica Savarese while prepping for the interview whlie Hazel was tutored by Zida Benassi.

"It's amazing," Gottschalk said of the two having the opportunity to take part in the program. "The neat thing about it is they're such good friends."

Provine said she was informed that while in their host country, they will not be allowed to call home. However, they will have access to e-mail one hour on a weekly basis, but they will have to speak in the native tongue of the country they are staying in for the entire seven weeks.

"I have all confidence in Savannah," Berry said. "She has prepared for months for the trip."

Having the chance to speak in Spanish only for seven weeks is a welcome opportunity for Hazel, who has studied Spanish for three years. She said she recently found out she will host an exchange student in the fall.

In addition, she said she's excited about getting to see a different view from a different country.

"I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn," she said, "and to become more fluent. I am so excited."

She added the possibility of seeing the architecture of Spain, specifically the historic churches, is a plus.

For Provine, having the chance to visit France is practically a dream come true.

"I'm ecstatic. I get nervous just thinking about it," she said. "I've always been interested in different cultures."

The chance to visit one of the world's greatest attractions, Paris' Eifel Tower, is a chance of a lifetime, she said.

"It's kind of surreal because it's like the French icon," Provine said.

Both Provine and Hazel will leave for their respective trips from Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Provine is scheduled to arrive back in the state on July 23 while Hazel will be back on July 24.

Gottschalk said in addition to Hazel, Provine and English, former GHS student Sara Batto also participated in the program a few years ago when she traveled to Mexico.

Former GHS student Alys Moore also qualified for the program was was unable to take part.

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