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Avon’s educational coach and her daughters enjoy international experiences

Screenwriter / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photograph provided

It started with Abraham Lincoln and grew from there. Catherine Lewis, a self-proclaimed Lincoln buff, shared his passion for history and international travel with his two daughters.

The joke was that I took them to any house that Abraham Lincoln lived in for a while,” says Lewis, an instructional coach at Avon High School. But their travels were nott limited to Lincolnthe patrimony. The family, which includes her husband, Thomas, and daughters, Claire, 22, and Sophia, 20, love international travel. Much of this passion has been cultivated through the Avon School System. In the beginning, one of Claires Spanish teachers encouraged her to check out Indiana University’s Honors Foreign Languages ​​Program (IUHPFL).

It was a game-changer for her,” Lewis says. She came back fluently.

At IUHPFL, students live with host families, but the experience encourages them to take flight. As a result, their confidence increases exponentially.

While in college, Claire made several goodwill trips to various Hispanic communities. She also studied abroad in Mérida, Mexico. In June 2022, she graduated from DePaul University in Chicago, and because she received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant award, sheI will be teaching at Universidad Camilo José Cela in Madrid, Spain from September 2022 to June 2023.

When it came time for Sophia to choose a foreign language at Avon, she deliberately chose something different from her older brother.

The teachers told him Oh youClearhis sister?and Sophia would answer, No I do notI don’t know Claire,” Lewis says. She wanted to forge her own identity, so she studied French and Russian, choosing both a Romance language and a critical language.

Sophia, a French/Russian double major at Indiana University, is in the Russian Language and Area Advanced Studies Program (RLASP), which is supported by American Councils Study Abroad. ThisIt’s designed to maximize linguistic and cultural immersion in Russian society. Sophia has received two scholarships – the Gilman Scholars Program and the Foreign and Regional Languages ​​Scholarship. These scholarships allow Sophia to study in Kazakhstan this summer. She first went to Paris, and lived in youth hostels before spending two months with a host family.

Lewis received the Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity scholarship, which allows him to spend four and a half weeks in France this summer. It probably never would have happened without COVID-19. During quarantine, Lewis learned French through Duolingo, an American language-learning website and mobile app that lets users practice vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. She listened to podcasts on Duolingo and followed a transcript, which she recommends to anyone learning a foreign language.

Youyou will find that you improve,” she says. ThisIt’s amazing when you hear a podcast and realize youunderstand what theysay.

After listening to a podcast called Le Paris Noir, she thought,that’s what I want to do. I want to go see this side of Paris.

Like her daughters, once she decides on something, Lewis commits to doing it. It took her two years to get through Duolingo, but she made steady progress. In her scholarship, she explains how she could read quite well and that listening to podcasts greatly improved her listening skills. Speaking the language, however, was another story.

You learn by being thrown into the conversation,” she says.International

When she learned that she was the recipient of the Lilly scholarship, it was like a dream come true. Learning French got me through the pandemic, so studying French culture in France offered some sort of closure to that two-year period,” she says.

Thomas also likes to travel. He studies abroad through IUPUI in Greece every summer. Last May, he traveled to Norway to visit his daughter Amalia, a graduate of a university in Trondheim.

Next on LewisThe s bucket travel list is Madagascar, where the official language is French. Now, heaccessible to me because I speak French,” says Lewis.

She enjoys learning, not only to broaden her horizons, but also to better understand Avon students.

Lewis credits Avon Schools for preparing young college students to spread their wings in this way.

You work hard in these programs, and with hard work comes self-efficacy,” Lewis says. I think thatThat’s what my daughters got from Avon – a confidence they felt, I can do it. I can learn this language. I can travel.’

According to Lewis, the most rewarding aspect of international travel is changing ahis view of the world.

Your world gets bigger, but eventually the big world gets smaller,” she says.