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Liz Benoist: Exchange Student Spotlight

Exchange student Liz Benoist '25 on campus

The Father Ryan community continues to grow every day, and this time it was with the addition of exchange student Liz Benoist ’25.  

Liz’s boarding school, Saint-Denis International School, in Loches, France, partners with Father Ryan to offer a student exchange program. In her seconde or sophomore year, Liz decided to join this program after watching two of her sisters study in similar programs in Germany and London. Initially nervous about the idea, Liz quickly realized that the opportunity to experience a new culture and submerge herself in an English speaking environment was too good to pass up. 

Liz has been welcomed to the Nashville and Father Ryan community by the Edwards family, especially her host sister, Chloe Edwards ’24. From experiencing her first school dance – a student life opportunity not commonly offered in Frane – to participating in her first ever pep rally – dodgeball tournament and all, Liz quickly grew to love the differences in American and French culture. 

While those were some of her more unique experiences at Father Ryan, Liz has also been taking a full schedule of classes. The sophomore has enjoyed all her classes, especially French III Honors class with Mr. Sven Oelhafen and her Chemistry I Honors class with Dr. Neelie Crooke. Liz found a significant difference between her school in France and Father Ryan in the bond between students and teachers. “The teachers are much kinder, and they have a very close bond with all the students,” Liz said. 

At Father Ryan, she also has enjoyed the free time that comes with the school day ending at 2:55pm – whereas her school days in France last until 5:00pm. As most 16-year-olds are driving themselves in the U.S., Liz was excited to ride with Chloe around Nashville because the legal driving age in France is 18.   

Liz has also had the chance to experience Nashville outside the classroom. From the Parthenon at Centennial Park to live music during lunch on Broadway, Liz said she is thankful she came to Tennessee, saying it feels like a more authentic American experience.   

Liz says she will miss her host family and Chloe the most when she leaves as they made her feel truly welcome. Mrs. Edwards, originally from Belgium, also speaks French, which Liz has been grateful for during her time with the family. In addition, Liz has enjoyed the home-cooked meals and going out to eat Mexican food with the Edwards. Although she will miss the Edwards, Chloe will be following Liz to France, where she will receive a comparable experience to the one Liz has had as part of the same exchange program between Father Ryan and Saint-Denis.  

Chloe loved having Liz live with her family and being able to learn from someone from a different culture. “We’re both teenagers, so we are very similar, but we’ve grown up in different cultures, so we are very different, too.” 

As Liz’s time at Father Ryan has come to an end, she is looking forward to bringing her parents to America in the future, specifically Tennessee. 

When reflecting on her experience in Father Ryan’s exchange program, Liz said, “The students and teachers immediately made me feel welcome and included. It has been a great opportunity to learn more about a different culture and to improve my English.” 

  • Academics