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French Exchange Program
Over the past two weeks, Benilde-St. Margaret’s hosted nine students from a Catholic school in Versailles, France. The hosting program, Vistas in Education (VIE) has a headquarter in Minnesota and has been providing student exchange travel since 1976.
Each year families open their homes to young French people through the program. This specific exchange had a group of 30 students and two teachers that were split up among BSM, Valley View and South View Middle Schools in Edina.
BSM loved being a part of the program, providing the opportunity to bring French culture to American students. The French students were also very eager to learn about American culture, family and school life.
BSM 8th grade host, Rachael Brooks said, “I was excited to learn about a different culture and experience some of the things French students like to do and eat. I have learned that people in different countries are just the same as us.”
Families volunteered to host these ambitious students and welcomed them as part of their family for ten days. Families were encouraged to treat each French student as if they were a member of their family, including same rules as their own kids.
“The idea is to just treat them like any visitor here… they are here to learn English and see what school is like,” Hyde said (courtesy of the Knight Errant article - “French class communicates with students in France”).
Students here at BSM were thrilled for this opportunity to share their experiences with one another, converse in both English and French while learning how to overcome language barriers. They loved the opportunity to share their lives with the students from France.
Gillian Brown was more excited about having a friend that was like a brother, “the experience was awesome because I learned what it is like to have a brother.”
While visiting, the students went on field trips and attended fun events including a night of bowling at Park Tavern, a trip to the Science Museum, Mall of America and a day at Buck Hill skiing/tubing.
“I was most excited to experience some of France's culture and improve my French. Some of my favorite things we did was going to the Timberwolves game, ice skating and bowling. I would love to host someone again,” said 8th grade BSM host Lillyan Mullin.
The BSM hosts parted ways with their French Exchange students by hosting a “Bon Voyage” party on Valentine's Day and then waved goodbye to them at the airport the following day.
When asked if the students would want to host again, students didn’t hesitate - “For sure it was awesome!”
Here at BSM we believe that diversity and multicultural education are essential components of our students' lives as we prepare them to live and work an ever-evolving, complex society. Thank you to our hosts and French Exchange students for making this first exchange experience a success!