John Abbott College Commemorates Exceptional Journey at Goncourt des Lycéens

John Abbott College proudly commemorates its distinctive participation as the exclusive North American representative in this year’s Goncourt des Lycéens. Accompanied by faculty members Daniel Rondeau and Ariane Bessette, a group of students recently concluded a captivating week-long journey in France, marking the conclusion of a demanding yet unforgettable adventure.

The journey kicked off in September when a committed group of ten readers, enthusiastically embraced the challenge of reading all 16 novels selected by the Goncourt des Lycéens within two months, on top of their regular course load. For many, with French not being their first language, this seemed like a huge hill to climb. Despite initial concerns, they courageously tackled the challenge, showcasing their unwavering commitment to the task.

An unexpected highlight emerged with the selection of Kamila Michelle Contreras Zarate, currently enrolled in the Social Sciences program, to represent John Abbott College in the final deliberations in Rennes. Out of nearly 2,000 participants, Kamila’s exceptional preparation, confidence, and dedication played a pivotal role in contributing to the selection of the winning novel, “Triste tigre” by Neige Sinno.

In parallel with their mission, the group immersed themselves in the cultural richness of Paris, exploring the Victor-Hugo house, attending a show at Les Invalides, and delving into their studies at the National Library. Their professors described the entire experience as a seamless journey, marked by a profound sense of pride felt by everyone involved.

Ariane Bessette shared her enthusiasm, expressing, “I loved it! Being in a book club as a teacher, where our task was to guide them without giving them grades, was like going back to the basics of the profession, which is to discuss literature together. It gave me an energy that I will miss.”

While an institution cannot participate in the Goncourt des Lycéens two years in a row, the success of this French adventure has sparked the desire in Daniel Rondeau and Ariane Bessette to consider applying for the Renaudot or Femina des lycéens awards next year.

The John Abbott College community celebrates this remarkable achievement, underscoring the global representation of the college’s excellence in education and cultural exchange.


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