The president of France had a busy week in Washington, D.C., including conversations about the Iran nuclear deal with President Donald Trump and giving a speech before a joint session of Congress, urging the U.S. to get more serious about climate change.
Despite his packed schedule, it turned out President Emmanuel Macron also had time for a chance encounter with a group of middle schoolers from Vermont.
The D.C. journey for 43 Vermont students, organized by Essex Junction Recreation & Parks, took a surprise turn Wednesday when the students stumbled upon President Macron.
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The kids were touring the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial with their six chaperones, and it just so happened that Macron was there, too, with civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis of Georgia.
The two leaders approached the students for a brief visit.
When Macron asked where they’re from, the kids exclaimed, “Vermont,” and told him they were there on a school trip.
Lewis then urged the students to tell Macron what they’ve been studying at school.
“We’ve been studying the history of America and how we got to where we are now,” one of the Essex students said in response.
A day after the chance encounter, necn and NBC 10 Boston video chatted with some of the young travelers who got to talk with Macron.
“I thought it was really, really cool, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” eighth grader Kaito Esselstrom said. “Most French people would never get to meet him, yet I’m in America and I got to meet him.”
“We all consider ourselves pretty lucky to have experienced something like this, and I think it’s amazing that just by chance, he walked up to us,” added Anna Ganguly, another student on the trip.
Brad Luck, the director of Essex Junction Recreation & Parks, said he and the other chaperones think Macron and Lewis approached the Vermonters because they were kids—making for a nice break, maybe, from all the serious business of international diplomacy.
“It was really an incredible experience,” Luck said of the meeting. “We’ve already talked about how we can’t top this [trip]!”
When they’re back home, the students said they want to read up on the men they met in D.C.: proof spring break really can be educational.