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The world comes to Rosemount

St. Joseph School is hosting 26 students from France.1 / 2
Two students giggle as the meet their American counterparts.2 / 2

There is an international feel these days at St. Joseph School. A sign above the front doors reads Entrée, and another outside the library reads Bibliotheque. The walls are decorated with pairs of red, white and blue flags -- one the familiar stars and stripes of the United States and the other the tricolored stripes of France.

The new decorations are all a part of making the school's visitors feel welcome. For two weeks, St. Joseph School, its students and its families are playing host to a group of 26 fifth graders from a school in Paris. The group is one of two visiting Minnesota this month. They arrived May 4 and will stay with St. Joseph families while they are here.

St. Joseph was a fill-in host for the students after another school dropped out. One of the parishioners at St. Joseph Church, a former language teacher at the school, has connections with the group that organized the trip and recommended St. Joseph.

"She liked the school. She felt they would be well accommodated," St. Joseph principal Tom Joseph said.

Joseph liked the idea, too. While St. Joseph has connections with schools in other countries, Joseph thought it would be good for students to get more direct contact with another culture.

"It's simply a way for our students to see that they're part of the global community," Joseph said. "It's just good to be able to welcome into our school such diversity."

On the first day of classes with the new students, things seemed to be going well. In an art class, students huddled close together to talk about their work. The French students all speak good English. Many of the students communicated by Skype or email prior to the trip.

Because St. Joseph is a small school, the visiting students are spread among several grades.

The French students will take field trips to the Science Museum, the zoo and other locations during their trip. Next week they will put on a play about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks.

"My goal is (students) will see there are more similar than different," Joseph said.