Homecoming kicks off French exchange

Arriving in the U.S. just hours before the annual homecoming dance, French exchange students got ready with their hosts and friends to join in the spirit week.

For the first time ever, families are hosting French exchange students for a week.

Following last winter, a select number of students enrolled in a French class, traveled to France to experience the life of a French teenager and developed their ability to speak, read and write in French.

“Its both a linguistic and cultural exchange,”  French teacher Matthew Hanlon said. Marshall students had the opportunity to speak french for 10 days and to be in a family setting.

The trip allowed a glimpse into the life of an average French teenager. Travelers were able to see what the day to day life is like and not just look at France through the eyes of a tourist.

“That’s where we really see that value in this experience over other trips where you just go to France,”Hanlon said. “It’s not just a tour that you go on with your family to Paris, you are actually living with the family. You actually get to experience French life while you are also learning to speak French.”           

Just as American students were able to experience life in France, the French correspondents participate in American traditions as well. Of the 19 French exchange students, a large number of them attended the annual homecoming dance, For most of them, this was their first traditional high school dance.   

Senior and French correspondent Manon Rault had never experienced an American homecoming and the event was an experience she said she will never forget.

“We have little events in France, but nothing as extravagant as homecoming,” Rault said. “It was so amazing to see all the girls and boys dressed up to their best and I’m really glad I got to participate with Rose [my host from Marshall] and her friends.”

The style as well as the extra privileges of Americans shocked the French correspondents.

“The way they dress in school, there is less judgement,” French correspondent Elise Bouillet said. “Many of the kids drive, which is unusual because the driving age in France is 18, so only a few people in high school can drive. It was fun driving with our friends to homecoming, because it’s not something we can do back home.”

Rault said she was not expecting the amount of time the girls would need to get ready for the dance to take so long.

“All of the girls wore makeup, which was unusual for me because it’s so different in France,” Rault said, “Most girls my age wear very little to no makeup at all. It was so fun to have my makeup done, I’ve never had someone do it for me before.”  

Crossing cultures between the students has been an educational opportunity that’s created lasting friendships.

Seniors Rose Taury and Manon Rault get ready for homecoming on the same day of arrival.
Seniors Rose Taury and Manon Rault get ready for homecoming on the same day of arrival.