Comments from students from the summer l998 La Crosse (WI)--Epinal (France) exchange

Students hosted their French counterpart for three weeks during the month of July


Following are comments from some of the 23 students who hosted.

Danielle Hoff

Hosting this summer was a great experience for myself and my family. We learned different things about each others culture and how they are similar.

We did many things around LaCrosse that seemed normal to me, but would be a new experience to her, such as going to the grocery store, bank,the mall, cinema. We went swimming a lot and out to eat.

We did things that I wouldn't do on a regular basis, like going to Grand Dad's Bluff, the Brewery, beach and the park. It was fun for both of us, because I hadn't done these things in a while.

Not only did we do things in town, but we also went to Mall of America and Wisconsin Dells. We had a lot of fun.

When we had foods that she wasn't used to, she wasn't willing to try them which was hard for us because we didn't know what to make. She did like grilled cheese and we ate that a lot for lunch.

Over all, it was a good experience and I hope my brother and sisters have a chance to have someone again.

Natalie Bucey

I was privileged this summer to be a part of the LaCrosse-Epinal exchange program. My French exchange student, Anne-Laure, was definitely unique, but outgoing and adventurous. She told me that one of her teachers did not recommend her to come to the U.S. because she had such a strong opinion and distinct personality. Regardless, we got along fine and both had an enjoyable and beneficial experience.

The beginning was the most challenging while she was getting used to the language and us to each other. But it only took a few days until we were comfortable and having fun. We did a lot with another student, Jackie Ford, and her student Barbara, such as canoeing, movies, road trips to cities in the area. Although Anne-Laure probably enjoyed these events the most since she was experiencing America, I really liked our long conversations. Each night we would stay up late and she would tell me about her family, friends, hometown and the things she enjoys doing. We got to know each other really well, so I am excited to go next summer to see her and also experience life in France.

Magen Duffy

Some of my best times of the summer were spent with my French exchange student from Epinal.

When she first came I thought that the next two weeks were going to be long and hard for the both of us. She was coming to a whole new area of life that was very different from home. The first few days were very difficult. We both had to listen carefully, adjust to each others habits and do our everyday things to help each other.

After awhile things became easier. We both knew the best way to communicate with each other and it was just like having a sister around.

Overall, I think that this was a great learning experience. I got to learn a little of the French culture and even some new stuff about LaCrosse! This will be a forever memory for me, and through this I have met a great person and a friend forever.

Amanda Willer

For three weeks this summer, my family and I hosted Jean -Baptiste. I was very excited about his coming to stay with us. I wanted to learn more about French culture so as to enhance my learning experience.

Jean-Baptiste liked scenery a lot. He spent many mornings on our deck looking at the bluffs and the city below. I discovered that French people like to smoke. He taught me some very French phrases, I taught him some English ones. We visited the Mall of America and he had a shopping frenzy.

He thought that the clothes were so much cheaper and cooler. We visited most every athletic store in that mall! We went golfing a few times, too just to show how we play it.

I thought it was funny that they don't really drink root-beer because it has a medicinal taste.

We discussed our great dislike of country music and we talked of techno and industrial music. He knew a lot of American bands--I only knew Celine Dion. We saw the movie Armageddon and he was mad because Paris got blown up. Also we had to watch the X-Files every Sunday, because in France, they are only in the third season.

Erin Mader

Deciding to become involved with the exchange program was one of the best decisions I have ever made. it is something that has completely changed my life and has made me change as a person, too.

Going to France two summers ago was an immense step for me. I had never been away from home for that long before and had never been to Europe in my life. It was an awesome experience. I met many new people, both French and American, visited a million interesting places and experienced French culture in a way that is difficult to describe. It was amazing to become familiar with a completely new culture by actually being immersed in it.

And of course, that was only the first half! Having an exchange student come to live with my family this past summer was another one of the best experiences that I have ever had. When Thibault arrived, my family and I were very excited to meet and to get to know him. The first night we perceived him to be a very lost-looking, innocent, nervous fifteen-year-old boy who had absolutely no idea what was going on. We knew nothing about him, for I had stayed with a different family the summer before. We were all very curious. Surprisingly enough, it took about twenty-four hours for any existing unfamiliarities to disappear! Thibault became part of the Mader family instantly, and everyday was a new adventure and a ton of fun! He seemed to enjoy almost everything that we did, yet he was never too afraid to ask to do something or say that he didn't like something.

Another positive aspect of his visit was that I could speak in French. It was so neat to be able to talk to someone fluent, and so helpful to be able to speak in French just for fun, for i did not have to worry if I said something incorrectly...It wasn't graded! Thibault just corrected me and laughed, for my errors were usually humorous ones! Overall, his stay helped my French immensely, as well as enhancing thepreviously non-existent French vocabulary of my family!

Thibault's stay was something that broadened the cultural horizons of everyone, including the lives of my friends, family relatives and all the others that he met. Every day, we learned something new about France and its culture, and, unexpectedly, he compelled us to notice aspects of our own culture that we had never even thought about before. On the over hand, we learned to recognize many similarities between French and American culture, which were also extremely interesting.

Being in the exchange program was not just also formed many new friendships. Thibault will probably be a friend of our family's forever. The exchange program is an extremely beneficial program to become involved in... I recommend it to everyone.

Katie Jordan

To be honest, I would have to admit that i wasn't nearly as excited to host a student from Epinal as I was to be the student going to Epinal. But looking back on the experience as a whole, I would have a very difficult time deciding which summer was my favorite. Obviously having the chance to experience another culture was an opportunity of a life time, but watching one's reaction to our culture was an experience of its' own.

After a long year of waiting, Erin and I were finally greeting our tired exchange students. Little did we know what the next three weeks would bring. Between Romain and Thibault, we had our fair share of energy to handle. I can not even begin to explain what a wonderful experience hosting a student was--I loved every single moment of it. I especially loved when I would see romie's face light up because he was being introduced to something so different to him--I loved to laugh at the horrible faces he would make when he tried a food that he found very displeasing.

Perhaps the greatest thing about the exchange was to see how positively he influenced my whole family--I think my mom cried harder when Romie left than I did! It was amazing to see how differently even my younger brother is now, just as a result of being influenced by another culture. As we definitely influenced Romie with our American culture, he did his fair share of teaching us a great deal about his culture. Each time we would see that surprised look on his face, we would ask him what is different about "it" in France and he would explain. It was great influence on both of my brothers who have never really been intrigued by foreign cultures--both of them are now very interested in "Romie's life".

I know that I will always have Romie and Thibault as friends. The four of us (Erin, Thibault, Romain and I were practically inseparable for the three weeks.

As a result of these exchanges, I believe the participants become more "well-rounded" people--the more you know about different cultures, the more you appreciate them! If I could, I would go back tomorrow! :)

Elizabeth Bosshard-Blackey

This past summer I took part in the LaCrosse/Epinal exchange program by hosting an 18 year-old girl from Epinal. As I reflect on my 3 week visit with Melanie Tirode, I can now see how much I got out of this experience. I not only improved my skills in speaking French, but I learned a lot about myself and the way I relate to and communicate with others. The day I picked Melanie up, I was very nervous and I worried about things like "Is she going to be weird or mean or will I be able to talk to her?" By the end of the first day, my worries were gone. Melanie wanted to be an American teen for three weeks and was happy to do whatever my friends and I wanted to do. We went to baseball games, took trips to the mall, swam and many other things. It was fun to watch her react to American things that I find extremely normal but were new to her. We were able to communicate very well with conversations jumping back and forth from English to French, and I was able to learn a lot about Melanie's culture through discussions we had and also just from watching her. I also learned a lot about myself. I never knew how private and impatient I was until I had to open up my home and mind to my student. I'm usually quite independent and on my own so I had to learn to be more patient and also attentive to someone else's needs all of the time. Throughout our three weeks with the French students, I was amused, frustrated, impressed, exhausted, and completely fascinated 24 hours a day. I was completely satisfied with the visit, and judging by Melanie's good-bye tears and her statement"Les Etats-Unis sont magnifiques," I would say she had a good time as well.

The Teacher for these students:
Dianne Seyler
789-7900 (W) (608)
Fax: 789-7931 or 7932 (W)


page added January 28, 1999 [Back to LaCrosse-Epinal Exchange]