French Exchange Students Visit Local High School [SLIDE SHOW]

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By: Lanetra Bennett
February 21, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - French class at Leon High School has become a bit more authentic.

A group of exchange students from France is spending a couple of weeks in Tallahassee.

One of the students, 15-year-old Xavier Campajme, says, "I think it's a very good country; very cool. I think the Americans are very cool."

Eighteen students from Bethune in northern France are staying in Tallahassee for two weeks.

Thursday, they toured Downtown. They watched a movie at the IMAX Theater; toured the Florida Capitol and spoke with State Representative Alan Williams in the Senate Chambers, and visited Tallahassee Mayor John Marks.

The French students' English teacher Sylvie Dlepierre says it's been nice for the students to experience American culture for themselves. She says, "It's better when you can see for yourself and get to know real American people and just see them instead of just on television."

During their visit, the students attend Leon High School. They say school one of the biggest differences from France. In France, high school is three years instead of four.

Exchange student Clara Boudom says, "We finish really earlier. We always change the classroom. We don't stay with the same students. It's really different."

One of the things they like most about their visit: "I love American food. I've tried hamburgers, biggest hamburgers." Says, Boudom.

Advisers say the trip helps bridge cultural gaps.

Exchange student Theo Kusczyimski says, "My [host] family is super. She is very nice. my American sister helps me to understand American life. It's very nice."

Kusczyimski adds, "I love America."

The students arrived last Friday and leave next Friday. This is the fifth year of the program.

Leon High School Release

Sponsor of Société Honoraire de Français, Amitié, French Cultural Exchange

The students at Leon High School are experiencing a unique opportunity to make friends with 18 French high school students who are visiting Tallahassee.

Through the encouragement of their teacher, Madame Clarke, students are hosting these young visitors, aged 14-17, for two weeks. The French students attend a high school in Bethune, in the northern part of France near the city of Lille. They are traveling to Tallahassee with their English teachers as chaperones and will live for two weeks with Madame Clarke’s French students and their families.

This experience is part of a cultural exchange program sponsored by Language & Friendship, Inc. On their website, L & F, Inc. states that their mission “is to provide meaningful intercultural opportunities through short-term travel and family-stay programs abroad as well as through hosting opportunities in the United States. Emphasis is on the creation of quality programs with a strong commitment to intercultural and language-oriented education.”

For months, the students and Madame Clarke have prepared themselves to host their new French friends at school. Never having met their new American friends, French students will arrive at the Tallahassee Regional Airport on Friday night, February 15th at 6:00pm. For five out of 10 school days, the French students will shadow their host students at school, attending class and learning what a typical school day is like for Americans.

Most of the young French students have studied English since their elementary school days, but it is quite another thing to communicate with fast-moving American teenagers. They will get a crash course in American slang, food, extracurricular activities, and many other traditions. But most importantly, these students will communicate and socialize using French and English, bridging cultural gaps with a smile.

The French students will not just attend high school; they will also have a chance to learn more about North Florida. They have four field trips scheduled: one to St. Augustine, to learn of Florida’s early history, one to Wakulla Springs, to learn about the natural beauty of our region, one to FSU to have a chance to visit a typical, large American university campus, and one to downtown Tallahassee, to meet Mayor Marks and tour the old and new Capitol buildings, see the legislature in action, and meet Representative Alan Williams, and see an IMAX movie.

In a short time, these young French people will experience the rich and varied resources our region has to offer, and together, American and French students will understand the most essential component of cultural exchange: friendship.

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