By Celia Mulcahey
There is one form of communication that two people can understand without speaking the same language: a smile. To anyone, a smile means happiness, joy, and pleasure. Although further communication is forged on electronic devices and on programs such a Google Translate, there is no other excitement for a French-speaking student than to participate in the French Exchange Program. At Council Rock North, students who take a French course are eligible to host a student from Alsace, France. With communication between Mme. Drabot and the teachers from Jean XXII, American students can apply for a French student as early as the second week of September.
In years past, the program has allowed students to experience the same excitement of housing a French exchange student for a week and a half and then living with him or her in Alsace for two weeks during the summer.
Senior Monica O’Donnell hosted a French exchange student last year, and her experience with the French Exchange Program could not have had a more positive impact on her. O'Donnell commented that, “Immersing yourself in other cultures is the best way to learn a language. Through the French Exchange Program I improved my abilities allowing me to communicate easier. I made wonderful memories that cannot be made with any other program.”
These feelings are the same for many of the students who participated in the program. Marissa Bradley, also a senior, shared a similar experience. Even though her time in the program has finished, Bradley and her family are still in contact with her exchange student and her family.
On October 16, the French exchange students finally arrived at Council Rock North. With awkward hellos and uneasy goodbyes to the comfort of the francophone group, the French students departed with their host families to their new homes. With many activities such as Fall Festival and Homecoming, the French students quickly got a taste of American culture. In addition, the French students experience the wonders of New York via Times Square, the M&M shop, and the 9/11 Memorial; the wonders of Philadelphia via the Reading Terminal Market, the Parkway, and the Liberty Bell; and many more places.
As to my own experiences so far, I have not experienced anything more wonderful. Hosting a French exchange student has improved my speaking, reading, and listening to French and has expanded my passion for the French language and culture. I am so grateful for this opportunity, especially knowing I have a family overseas who is just as eager and open to me as my family and I was with my student. Not only do I thank my French exchange student and her family for my future experiences, but I also deeply thank all of my French teachers: Mme. Price, Mme. Davis, Mme. Drabot, and Mme. Mayer for preparing me and allowing me to participate in such a wonderful, life-changing experience.
Truly, the French exchange program at North is second-to-none and is a memorable experience for all involved.