Since its inception in 2008, the ongoing exchange program between Sacred Heart sister schools Woodlands Academy in Lake Forest and Sacré Coeur Wien in Vienna, Austria, has generated many invaluable academic and cultural experiences, including the lasting friendships that students and teachers alike have made. Following a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, this tradition began its much-anticipated return on March 10 when Woodlands, an all-girls college-prep high school, welcomed 12 Austrian sophomores and their two teacher/chaperones for a two-week visit.
The visiting delegation included four boys from the co-ed Austrian school. Despite some differences between schools in the two countries, the Austrian students assimilated quickly into their Woodlands Academy routine. Some of them credit the built-in Sacred Heart connection.
During their two-week visit, the Viennese students attended classes with their day hosts. They stayed in Woodlands’ boarding program during the first week of their visit and then in the homes of student hosts the second week. Their classroom activities at Woodlands Academy included presentations about various aspects of Austria such as its history, traditions, landmarks, and arts and culture.
In addition, the Viennese delegation shared in a variety of Chicago-area experiences, such as a Bulls game at the United Center, an evening at Feed My Starving Children in Libertyville, a show at the Marriot Lincolnshire Theatre, and visits to the Art Institute of Chicago and Museum of Science and Industry.
Just before their March 24 departure, Woodlands Academy’s Austrian guests taught the entire student body some basic steps of the Viennese waltz during an all-school assembly in the gym.
The complete exchange resumes next school year when a delegation of Woodlands students will spend two weeks at Sacré Coeur Wien in the fall, followed by a visit from the Austrian school in March 2024.
The Sacred Heart network of schools spanning the U.S. and 40 other countries on six continents allows Woodlands Academy to offer its students unique opportunities for a premiere global education experience. In addition to the ongoing reciprocal arrangement with its sister school in Vienna, Woodlands Academy’s exchange program hosts Sacred Heart students from several countries each year and provides opportunities for its students to spend time at Sacred Heart schools abroad.