Bringing the Classroom to the Streets of Avignon

Learning while living in France

The streets of Avignon formed the stages for an annual three-week summer festival that featured a wide range of performers. (Photo by Diane Bizzarro ’12)

A Theory-to-Practice grant from Ohio Wesleyan University helped fund a two-month trip to France for junior Diane Bizzarro, where she was immersed in the language and culture of France, along with its performing arts. It was an experience that added both depth and breadth of understanding to her academic program at OWU.

“It was amazing to have the first-hand experience of the culture of France, along with language immersion,” Bizzarro says. She lived with a local family, and signed a contract with them to speak only in the French language. She says this trip provided fantastic experience toward her double major in French and English, with a minor in theatre.

The grant she received covered her airfare, board, and travel expenses. She paid for a course that she took at the Institut d’Etudes Françaises d’Avignon, through Bryn Mawr College, in which she studied dramatic theory of 20th century theatre, and participated in workshops.

OWU junior Diane Bizzarro (shown on end to right) performs with others on the streets of Avignon, France during The Festival d’Avignon. (Photo by Diane Bizzarro ’12)

She also attended and performed in Festival d’Avignon, an annual three-week long performing arts event that is France’s oldest and best known cultural arts festival. “I went to as many shows as I could, including seeing everything from Shakespeare, musicals, original plays—even puppet shows and circuses,” Bizzarro says.

“Avignon was rather quiet at first, but after the festival started, you could see performances everywhere from morning until night,” she explains.

She was able to participate in some street performances with her classmates from the workshop. “It was interesting to act in French,” she said.

Bizzarro, who is from Newtown Square, Pennsylvania (near Philadelphia), blogged about her experiences on a popular Web site for traveling women.

She is also planning to complete a documentary by next semester about her experiences in France.

Read more about the annual festival.

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