BCHS to welcome 34 French studentsApr 17th, 2012 | By Terri Sercovich | Category: news
After months of corresponding through letters and Facebook, a group of Belle Chasse High students finally get to meet their French pen pals face-to-face on Friday April 20.
The group of 34 high school students and two teachers from Lycée Brizeux in Quimper, France are visiting Belle Chasse as part of the 10-day cultural immersion and exchange program.
Belle Chasse High French teacher Julie Swan, who oversees the exchange, says her students are very excited to meet the Lycée Brizeux students, and the program is a great way for her kids to get enthusiastic about the subject.
“Every year we pair students up with pen pals,” explained Swan. “It’s a really great way to make learning the language more personal and hands-on.”
Swan says the students of Lycée Brizeux come here every other year, for approximately 10 days and stay with volunteer host families in Belle Chasse. The group consists of 34 honors students who are studying English to prepare them for their future careers, and according to Swan they are very proficient.
Even though the students come from an entirely different country, Swan wants her students— some of whom have never crossed the Belle Chasse bridge she says– to realize just how similar people from all over the world can be.
“Doing this really helps breakdown stereotypes of what the kids think France or French people are like. What I’ve realized since we’ve been doing this, is that teens are teens. Whether they’re from the U.S. or France, they all have the same interests,” Swan explained.
Swan also says that from past experience, the end of the students’ visit is always emotional.
“In just 10 days, many have created tight bonds with their host families as well as their pen pals. There are always tears on the day that they leave,” Swan explained.
But for a few of Swan’s students, saying goodbye is bittersweet, because it means that they are getting closer to their own cultural immersion and exchange trip. In May, Swan and six students are heading to Quimper, where they will stay with pen-pal and host families to get a firsthand glimpse of what life in France is like.
Swan says that although many students are interested in making the trip, the cost of airfare has excluded many from participating.
“I have some really good, top-of-the-class students who have worked so hard this year and really want to go, but they can’t afford it,” Swan explained.
Her goal is to get some sort of sponsorship for next year’s students, so more have the opportunity to make the trip.
If you’re interested in sponsoring a student for the next culture immersion and exchange trip to France, email Julie Swan at email@example.com.