Bradlen '24 has been at French American since Pre-K4. In 2014 and 2015, however, this nine-year-old kicked off the school year at École Sainte Bernadette, the same small parochial school that his father once attended in Quimper, France. Initially his parents, Bruno and Wan (who is originally from Taiwan), "thought it would be fun for Bradlen to spend some time with his French cousins and grandmother" during the month of August. Eventually, they tried giving him a complete immersion experience, having him stay in Brittany at the start of school. We spoke with Bradlen (in the company of his nanny, Lucy) and his parents, to get their thoughts on Bradlen's exchanges.
To Bradlen's mother: Have you seen benefits from the exchange, other than linguistic (cognitive, social, etc.)?
Wan: Bradlen told us that he felt very good and very special being the only American (and only one of two Asians) at Sainte Bernadette. He was certainly the center of attention--which he does not mind! He was able to share his U.S. experience and teach his classmates about San Francisco. He also feels special when he is back in the U.S. thanks to what he has learned in France in terms of both language and culture. It has been surprisingly easy for him to adjust when he has returned during the October break. Although during the first few days he speaks English with a slight French accent.... We have been impressed by French American's support and flexibility with this arrangement. The teachers and administrations at both French American and Sainte Bernadette have been extremely supportive and helpful.
To Bradlen: What would you tell another student about your experience?
Bradlen: Apprendre avec des enfants d'un autre endroit dans le monde, c'est comme si j'étais un immigrant... comme mes parents en Amérique. To study with children in another part of the world, it's as if I were an immigrant... like my parents in the United States.
To Lucy: How is it not having school on Wednesday?
Because we don't have school, we have a tradition in our family. Usually we eat homemade crêpes. But not the crêpes with, like, sugar and strawberries. I mean the meal crêpes. My favorite is egg, cheddar and ham. And for dessert we have the ones you guys eat here.
To Bradlen: What do you do when you're not in school?
This week I did karate and chorus. I'm a blue belt, and I sing alto with the San Francisco Boys Chorus. Most of our songs are in Latin, and they're really long--like 162 measures.
When you come back, do you miss being in France?
Non, on a Skype, on a le téléphone, on a les messages. On se communique une fois par semaine, ou plus.
Will Bradlen attend Sainte Bernadette at the start of the 2016 Rentrée?
Wan: We have not yet decided, as it might be harder with Bradlen's San Francisco Boys Chorus summer camp requirements.
How does it feel to have Bradlen attend a school that you and others in your family have attended?
Bruno: My whole family went there including my mom and her siblings. It is wonderful to share so many of my own memories as a young boy with Bradlen.