Exchange program spreads French culture

According to Fleur Deyaert, French exchange student, Shorewood looks a little bit like what she’s seen in American movies. French students from Shorewood’s sister school in France, Lycée Alphonse Benoît, came to Shorewood for two weeks earlier this month.

The exchange was started eight years ago with the department of public instruction, which had matched up schools in certain areas of France with schools in Wisconsin. “Through this partnership we were able to secure the exchange and start it,” said Christine Jacquart, French teacher.

The students come with their euro classes similar to an AP type class. This year, there are 47 students total, with 26 staying with Shorewood families and 21 staying with Nicolet students. According to Evan Schmidt, French teacher, this year had the most students they have ever had come to the US so far.

“I was really excited at the idea of coming to Shorewood,” Deyaert said. “People are really open-minded. It is really … nice.” “I feel the matching was perfect,” said Jacquart “One of the best or better exchanges we have had.”

The students visited Madison, Chicago, Oneida reservation in Green Bay, Old World Wisconsin, went apple picking, and attended a preseason Bucks game. Professional sports in France are different than they are here.“They were some of the most enthusiastic Bucks fans I have ever seen,” Jacquart said.

According to Deyaert, America has many differences compared to France, including the cooler climate, smaller class sizes and the fact that not everyone eats hot lunch here.“We do not have it [lockers],” Deyaert said.

(Olivia Loomis) Both French and Shorewood students gather to converse on the front lawn, enjoying "déjeuner." French students stayed with Shorewood families for two weeks.
(Olivia Loomis) Both French and Shorewood students gather to converse on the front lawn, enjoying “déjeuner.” French students stayed with Shorewood families for two weeks.

The French students visited classes at SHS, and found it extremely interesting. “I enjoyed the orchestra. That is something we do not have in France,” Deyaert said.

Lexi Shields, senior, stayed in France with a French student named Emma Elano-Martis and hosted her when the students came here. With her French student in America, she helped her experience many things specific to American culture do not exist in France, for example, apple picking. “She just kept talking about how cool it was and it was really cool to give her that experience,” said Shields.

Shields also got to help Elano-Martis experience many firsts, like her first American hamburger, her first time at a mall, and her first time at a high school football game.

“It has changed my living perspective because you are basically inviting someone into your house that you do not really know even if you stayed with them in France,” Shields said. Last spring break a group of SHS students traveled to France to stay with the students that they hosted.

“It changed my perspective of the world, because life in Europe is so much simpler,” said Shields, “They are not as concerned about getting from point A to point B with as much efficiency as possible. They are concerned about having a good time.”

According to Jacquart traveling to France allows the student to develop a cultural fluency that cannot be taught in a classroom.

In past years SHS has gone every other year to France, host one year and travel another year. But next year will be different. SHS will be offering hosting and traveling in one year. In the year following, we will not travel, instead Nicolet will.

“The French want to come every year. But we think to keep our costs low. This is not a trip for the elite students that have money … we can offer it to everyone in a good decent range,” said Jacquart.

“If you get the opportunity to host a person from another country you should definitely do it,” said Shields, “It is one of the best experiences you can have before you go to college.”

(Martha Dix)

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