French exchange guests immerse themselves in Canadian culture

Eighteen excited French exchange students and their two personable teachers arrived at Trinity College School on Saturday, October 19th for an unforgettable two-week stay. The goal of our guests from École St. Martin de France included using English to meet new people while soaking up the culture in and around our school.

After riding the school bus to Port Hope, nicknamed the “yellow submarine,” the group met the host families who made them feel welcome and comfortable. Playing ping-pong or cards, visiting Roots and other outlet stores, touring the Phantom Farm around Halloween, eating homemade pancakes, carving pumpkins and baking pies together were among the highlights of time spent with our guests’ highly supportive host families.

During outings, the French students participated enthusiastically. At the Big Apple, a kitchen tour gave the group an idea of daily operations. Wearing aprons and hairnets and hearing baking-related vocabulary, they crafted and decorated their own small apple pies which they could eat or share with their host families. Trips to Toronto, in contrast, allowed them to get a sense of “how big” buildings, highway lanes, etc., are. The Royal Ontario Museum was a hit due in part to the dinosaur and First Peoples exhibits. The CN Tower’s glass ceiling will be long remembered, as will the huge Eaton Centre. The Niagara Falls outing, while chilly, again allowed the students to demonstrate their positive attitude and interest in the majestic scenery and the daredevil stories recounted in the Niagara IMAX film. Clifton Hill and bowling with friends were also highlights.

On campus, several exchange partners enjoyed the French-Canadian film M. Lazhar, which led to engaging discussions about Algeria, Quebec and how the story might end. In class, several French students participated well during discussions and activities about life in France, le Tour de France and French Carnaval (in contrast with Halloween). They participated during the Halloween and Day of the Dead musical and dance events. Two trips to the TCS arena were among the students’ top-five favourite events. The result was improved broomball skills and one student wanting to return to France to play on a competitive hockey team! Fun on the ice, no matter the level, led to much laughter.

From online videos greeting their partners, to the French Family Dinner, to photos on the Cobourg Beach, to the French students’ farewell announcement in chapel, our exchange guests demonstrated their desire to join in to TCS life. Friendships were made and will continue via social media. The countdown is on: in March, the TCS partners fly to Paris for two incredible weeks.

We are grateful to the TCS administration, Ms. Jennifer Kedwell and her staff in the health centre for hosting the French teachers, the other chaperones (Canon Don Aitchison, Mr. John Thomson and Ms. Gillian Scott), the culinary services team, Mrs. Renata Banks and our drivers, the communications office, Mr. Dale Dettman in the arena, all the teachers who hosted the students in class, and to Mr. David Wills (retired teacher) who returned to add special flair at the squash courts, arena and during a cultural class.

Vive le partage culturel et les langues! (Long live cultural sharing and languages!)

- By Rachel Stephens, Tiffany Bathurst and Matt Fox, exchange organizers