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INDIANA: French students experience life in Indiana, region

by By NEDA KARIMI, Gazette Student News Reporter on December 13, 2013 11:00 AM

On Oct. 12, 18 French exchange students arrived in the United States from Vanes, France. Fifteen of the 18 students completed their exchange at Indiana Area Senior High School. The other three went to United High School. All of the exchange students were seniors in high school.

Unlike most exchanges that occur at Indiana, the French exchange had a fairly even boy-to-girl ratio of students. Junior Rosa Williamson-Rea, who hosted one of the French exchange students, said, “I like how French exchange has more guys participate in it than the other exchanges throughout the school year.”

[PHOTO: Dana Piper, a senior at Indiana Area Senior High School, and Maeva Damas, a French exchange student, wore shirts that represent one another’s country.  (Aaryn Gray/Indiana Area Senior High School)]

During their two-week stay, the French students went on many different field trips. These included going to Pittsburgh and seeing the giant duck, the Andy Warhol Museum, Heinz Field, the Strip District, the Duquesne Incline and the Carnegie Science Center. The host siblings accompanied the French exchange students on their Pittsburgh field trip. Exchange student Josephine Thomas-Lacroix clearly had a great time visiting the city of the three rivers. “My favorite part about my visit to America was the giant duck in Pittsburgh,” she said.

The students did some more traveling aside from going to Pittsburgh. They went to Lancaster to see the Amish country; Shanksville, the site of the Flight 93 crash; and Punxsutawney, land of Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog. When they left Indiana on Oct. 25, they traveled to New York City. They stayed in the city for a few days and flew back to France from New York.

French culture is quite different than American culture. Like the Spanish exchange students, the French exchange students found American schools much different than their native schools. In France, the students stay in one classroom and the teachers travel from room to room (much like in Spain). The curriculum in France is different than the one at IHS. For example, the calculus concepts taught to students at Indiana in grades 11 and 12 were already taught to the French students some two or three years earlier.

Another major difference is that in France, every Wednesday is either a half-day or a full day off. The school day is longer in France, but students have more breaks. School starts at nine and ends at five.

To break up the school day, students are given a two-hour break and a two-hour lunch.

According to a French exchange host, junior MacKenzie Donahue, the French students thought the school day in America was very long because there weren’t many breaks. She also said, “It was really fun meeting new people and seeing a different culture.”

The staple food in France is cr↑pes, which are described by Rosa Williamson-Rea as “a floppy pancake with a sugar and lemon flavoring.”

In America, the French students tried many new American foods from their host families and from restaurants, but the main food they ate was the hamburger. Thomas-Lacroix said, “The hamburgers might be my favorite part about America.”

Unfortunately, the trip to France for the Indiana students has been canceled because there aren’t enough students. Benoit Denault, French teacher at the junior high school, is in charge of the program. If any students are interested in hosting a student next year, they should let Denault know. This way, it is more likely that there will be enough students to make a trip to France next year.

A student can host a French student even if he/she isn’t taking French that year — as long as they have taken it before. This was the case for junior Megan McCunn, who was very happy that she was still able to participate in the exchange program even though she didn’t have room for French in her schedule this year.

McCunn added, “I like the exchange. It was a very valuable experience, and I think my French has really improved.”

Hopefully, the French exchange students had a pleasant travel back home. They will definitely be missed here at Indiana.

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