Who knew that a chance encounter on a fly-fishing vacation in Montana would lead to a successful, long-term student exchange program for our high school? In the summer of 2010, Guidance secretary Trish Vaughn struck a friendship with English teacher from France, Nathalie Brunet, while both were on holiday. Ms. Vaughn soon put Nathalie in contact with UHS French teachers, Ms.Liska and Ms.Shelley, upon her return.
Since the fall of that year, Unionville High School has partnered with the Lycée Jean-Marc Boivin school outside Dijon France. The relationship includes maintaining a yearly letter exchange between French and US high school pen pals, and organizing student homestays in both US and French communities every other year. Lead and support teachers on both sides have become close friends over the years.
Most recently this April, thirty-three students from Lycée Jean-Marc Boivin visited our area and stayed with UHS host families for almost two weeks. The stay included day trips to Washington, DC, Philadelphia, the Lancaster Amish, and New York City. Host families graciously opened their homes and happily shared their family life with their guest. As always, they were generous with their time and resources, and they actively participated in many teacher and student-planned activities and events.
In turn, this summer, from June 22 to July 8th, enrolled UHS French students will travel to France in order to stay with host families, visit Dijon and the surrounding areas of beautiful Bourgogne, as well as go on a three-day tour of Paris before returning home. UHS students can hardly wait to be reunited with their French peers.
The Student exchange program was developed to encourage linguistic as well as cultural fluency between French and American high school students. This is an authentic opportunity that fosters ACFTL’s National standards of Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities.
Farewell picnic at the Latham home on April 12, 2016: UHS and French exchange students.