WMS Welcomes French Students

Megan Sweeney
Tomorrow evening, WMS will open its doors to the annual French cultural exchange.
Tomorrow, The White Mountain School will welcome twelve students and two teachers to our campus as part of our annual French Exchange. Begun in 1993 by Jane Zanger, former WMS French teacher, and Sophie Chevrier, French teacher at Lycee St. Cyr, in Nevers, this has become a much loved tradition. Jane and Sophie originally met through the Council of International Educational Exchange, or CIEE, an organization created after World War II to forge bonds between European and American students. Jane was teaching at a school in Newark at the time, but when she moved her teaching career to WMS, the exchange followed her. Together, our two schools have helped many students from across the globe to connect and learn from one another. Sophie Chevrier says, “It’s a long story of profound human relationships kept alive thanks to our love of mutual language and culture.”

Originally, WMS students would visit France during spring vacation. In recent years, it has taken a more academic turn, with students making the journey as part of an academic field course, spending part of the journey in Paris and part with a homestay program in Nevers where they are each paired with a French student and live with their family for the week. This year, it’s the Nevers students’ turn to visit our campus, after first journeying to New York and Boston to experience American city life.

The students will arrive tomorrow evening, attend a Welcome dinner and meet their hosts. On Friday, they will attend WMS classes, do activities with our French-speaking students, visit Littleton, go on an afternoon shopping trip in nearby North Conway, and optionally attend the Green Mountain Film Festival in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Saturday’s activities include a trip to Jay Peak, VT for skiing and fun at their huge indoor waterpark.

The excitement WMS students feel about meeting their new temporary classmates is palpable. When Campbell Ainsworth, current French teacher, announced the French students’ upcoming arrival at Morning Meeting early this week, cheers and applause filled the Great Hall. Our students’ openness to new experiences, new perspectives and new cultures is always astounding, and all of us are eagerly anticipating this opportunity to learn, share, and grow closer as a small, but global, community.

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