La France: Une aventure inoubliable pour les élèves de Midlo

French Exchange Visit to France

Photo by: BJ Beckwith
France explorers pay a visit to the iconic Eiffel Tower upon departing from Charles De Gaulle Airport.

Spring Break is often a time coveted by teachers and students alike. While many individuals revel in a long pause from academic pursuit, some individuals, however, enjoy continuing to explore school-based interests. For a select group of students from the Midlothian High School French program, as well as the James River High School French program, the anticipated task of experiencing a cultural exchange resulted in an exciting Spring Break.

Earlier in the school year, French exchange students traveled to Midlothian for two weeks and experienced American culture. During their visit, they stayed with area host families. Spring Break proved the perfect time to return the gesture with a reciprocal trip. Since their new French friends returned home, the local students participating in the exchange program have looked forward to the highly anticipated venture to France.

Students flew into Charles de Gaulle airport with high ambitions, knowing that this trip offered them the opportunity to expand their linguistic abilities. The trip entailed a seven day host-stay, during which the students stayed with their exchange students in Epernay, experiencing the habitual way of living like average French teenagers, as well as taking numerous excursions around one of France’s most wealthy provinces. After visiting Epernay, the host-stay students spent three days in Paris, where they saw iconic sites, such as: the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Sacre-Couer, Notre-Dame, and Les Champs-Elysees.

Midlothian High School French teacher Mme. Mazzola and Midlothian Assistant Principal Mr. Gifford chaperoned the trip. Mme. Mazzola feels that the trip was an “incredible experience to get to see how students can learn something in the classroom, and then go halfway across the world and apply it; I feel that the French Exchange, while extremely fun, also helped serve as an experience to increase students’ French language skills, as well as portray the relevance of [the use of] French in our world today.”  Mme. Le Piece, the Notre-Dame St. Victor English teacher, also played a huge role in coordinating the activities of the French Exchange trip.

Most of the students who participated in the exchange take the highest level of French offered at Midlothian High School. For these students, this trip presented a way to expand far past learning a language. It offered them the opportunity to experience a culture. Midlothian junior Kimmy Wrobel, a fourth year French student, remarks, “Getting to go to France and experience a culture so different, yet similar to our own was eye opening for me. It helped show me that there is something unifying and bigger that comes with a language, and more broadly, a culture.”

As the culminating event of the trip before the flight home, the students and chaperones enjoyed dinner on top of the Eiffel Tower, which gave them the opportunity to reflect on their incredible adventure. Midlothian senior Isabel Adkins states, “The final moments in Paris were my favorite part of the trip. All the sites and history there will be a cherished memory I will have for a long time.” Now safely back in Midlothian, the students have begun to apply their new-found knowledge in their French classes, now understanding the impact a cultural experience can have on one’s understanding of language.