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French exchange student explores California

Senior and French foreign exchange student Camille Genieyz talks to Photography Teacher Elizabeth Jens. Photo by Martin Foster.

Celebrated writer and humorist Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

During the course of the 2018-19 school year, someone will be doing just that. Bear River High School student Jazzlyn Jasper is hosting Camille Genieyz, a foreign exchange student from France.

“[My favorite part of having Camille here is] that it’s like making a new friend, and I have learned some French words,” said Jasper.

It can be a hard decision to leave one’s home and travel to a foreign country. Genieyz explained her decision.

“I come from Paris, France,” she said. “For me, it was [an] easy [decision], but for my parents, it was very hard.”

Language barriers can make it difficult for foreign exchange students to understand concepts in class. Science Teacher Mrs. Weir explained how she maneuvers around this challenge in class.

I teach to the entire class, but I am always willing to help students overcome the language barrier,” she said. “In the past, I have allowed students to use Google Translate software to allow them to focus on the content.”

A great way to become truly involved in the culture of a foreign country is to live among its people as a member of a family. Enrolling in a foreign exchange program is a life-changing experience for the student, the hosting family, and the entire school campus involved as well.

English Teacher Sherlyn Reafsnyder gave her input on the benefit of foreign exchange students.

They give students opportunities to see themselves from an outsider’s perspective, a rare experience for students who have never left the US,” she said.

Mrs. Weir added her input as well.

“I know that foreign exchange students bring culture, diversity, joy, and friendship to our school,” she said. “They also bring their talents in sports and the arts that enrich our school.”

Genieyz explains her opinion on the similarities and differences between California and France.

“Everything is different,” Genieyz said. “The school, the fact that you can drive, and just everything seems different … Yes, there are some similarities, we have school and some of the same sports.”

Mrs. Weir added her experiences with foreign exchange students.

“I have had very different experiences with each foreign exchange student in my classes,” said Mrs. Weir. “Each student is unique in their fondness for my science subject matter and in their command of the English language … I am always amazed at how adaptable foreign exchange students are to the way we do things … However, it is clear for most programs that they are here for a ‘cultural’ exchange.”

Mrs. Reafsnyder had similar experiences.

It can be difficult for students to adjust. Some of them miss their friends and family so much that it is difficult to concentrate,” said Mrs. Reafsnyder. “Also, sometimes they come to us with good writing communication skills, but conversational English is a struggle. That makes listening in class super hard.”

In the past, Bear River has had two or more foreign exchange students each year. This year, Camille is the only one.

“I know other exchange students from other places, and they are all in groups,” she said. “I am alone. Well, I’m not completely alone, I am just the only exchange student. I mostly stick with [Jazzlyn] and her friends.”

Many students enjoy having foreign exchange students on Bear River’s campus.

“It’s great to get a chance to experience another culture,” said Senior Hannah Prosser. “My experience was positive because I made a very close friend.”

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French exchange student explores California