The “Immac”, land of welcome for foreigners

the essential
The Espionnais establishment was able to find an original way of integration to continue to operate.

Audacity, more audacity, always audacity!” chanted Danton in the midst of the revolution. Mathieu Baldit is doing his own at the Institute of the Immaculate Conception (IIC) of which he is the head of the establishment. From the risk of closure, for lack of students, he has made it a strength today in Espalion by welcoming foreign high school students. The idea germinated when he was a history and geography teacher in Villefranche-de-Rouergue by welcoming an Indian who did not speak a word of French. Arrived in 2017 at the head of the IIC in Espalion, Mathieu Baldit took it into his head to welcome internationals. “We start from the student’s project, we adapts to him. The essential value is fraternity.” As soon as the project was set up in 2018, fifteen young people stayed with host families and studied at Espalion.

scholarship of Excellence

The following year, an excellence scholarship was set up with establishments in Côte d’Ivoire. “I want to bring the project to life by welcoming young people from modest backgrounds with the aim of them returning to their country to pass on their knowledge”, continues Mathieu Baldit who, for this fourth return to school with the international project, now welcomes 46 young people in a permanent boarding school (also operating on weekends, therefore) displaying already full!

In fact, a house is rented in the city center of Espalion to accommodate fourteen of them. And the “Immac” does not stop there. The project aims to welcome adults, with an Ivorian educator on duty to reassure the partnership. In this sense, Mathieu Baldit will travel to Côte d’Ivoire from February 16 to 26 to develop this unique educational excellence project in France in which the headteacher plays with embassies to obtain visas.

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A European section has been created in addition to Erasmus +, all coordinated by Carole Dujols, English teacher. “International students bring a dynamic. Each enriches the other and curiosity brings serenity”, she confides. Going from 110 to 156 students, the establishment has even had a makeover by renovating 1,000 m2 for €450,000 and is preparing to demolish a wing to offer, among other things, Earth science and life laboratories, history of live up to the ambitions of the Lycée du Nord-Aveyron. “You have to have bold projects,” concludes Mathieu Baldit.

Audacity, more audacity. Parents will be able to notice this during the open house on Saturday 22 January.

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