Graffiti artist, baseball player, shoe designer: a few of the many hobbies in Baptiste Roussel’s repertoire. A fifteen-year old exchange student from Chartres, France, Baptiste traveled very far to be with the Collegiate community these last seven weeks.
Baptiste was filled with nervousness and uncertainty before he arrived in Richmond; he did not know what to expect or what would happen. However, he did come visit for a few weeks this past spring. He states that all of the schools are smaller in France, which makes Collegiate seem like a substantial leap in terms of size. The way Collegiate runs confused him at first, his main source of confusion being class schedules; but he remarked that everyone, teachers and students both, were ready to help. This year Baptiste experienced the Collegiate tradition of Convocation for the first time. He got to hear the heartfelt speeches, see the seniors walking in with the kindergarteners, and participate in the making of turf piles. Baptiste also is engaged in community events, such as the Speak Up 5k, which he attended with the family of Upper School English teacher Dr. Linda Rouse and her family, whom he has lived with since August.
The Rouse-Richardson family has experience with hosting international students, which Baptiste has appreciated. He states, “They are really nice, they gave me the possibility to do this, which I wouldn’t think they would accept.” Because he is an avid baseball fan, they even took him to a Major League Baseball game in Baltimore, which Baptiste treasured. Dr. Rouse’s son, Jensen Richardson (’19) and Baptiste have also become exchange brothers. While Baptiste was here with the Rouse-Richardsons, Jensen is in Chartres for the semester, living with the Roussel family.
To see Baptiste in his natural habitat, you can give him either a spray paint can, an oar, a golf club, or a baseball. Baptiste started rowing when he was four and built his activities throughout the years. To see some of his art skills, you can look at all his graffiti works, and he has assured me that he only spray paints where it is legal to do so. Baptiste also personally designs his own shoes, showing his fashionista side. Those shoes have gotten plenty of walking at the many schools he has attended. Baptiste has attended Ecole Guéry, College Sainte Marie, and Saint-Denis International School.
Baptiste loved his time at Collegiate. He said that he was surprised by everyone’s “spirit.” When asked what he would take back to France when he departed for home last week, Baptiste stated, “If I could, I would take back all of the school with me.” He stated that everything was great, and he always had his questions answered; there was rarely any difficulty. He loved all his teachers and the friends he made. Baptiste loved all the possibilities the school and community offers. However, he is excited to be back in Chartres with his mother, father, older brother, and dog. Baptiste’s dad owns his own company, his mom is in aloe vera cosmetics, his brother (20) is in Polytechnique, a very prominent engineering school, and his dog, Google, who is one foot long and weighs one pound, is probably happy to see him too.
Everyone here at Collegiate loved Baptiste and has already started missing him since his departure last Thursday, October 13th. Baptiste definitely made an impressions on Collegiate and reminds us of all the possibilities provided and the warm community we live in.
Featured image: Baptiste Roussel.