French Exchange Program Takes Flight

Laziza Talipova, Staff Writer

At the Notre-Dame Les Oiseaux school in Verneuil-sur-Seine, France the French students are very much used to animals. On a typical school day, chickens and goats fill the campus as students prepare for classes. The French exchange student program allows Trinity and students from Notre-Dame Les Oiseaux to see new places and to engage with new people.  The program was planned to begin well before COVID, but it was postponed due to the pandemic. 

French teacher Vanessa Spallone regarded this program as an excellent opportunity for her students to interact with the French exchange students, visit France to explore new cultures and master the language. The exchange students visited on October 26 and left on November 1st. Spallone, French and Spanish teacher Maria DeCoster, Head of School Byron Lawson and the Trinity French students will be visiting France over spring break to experience the lifestyles and stay with their host families.

“I want my students to practice their French as much as possible in real-life situations,” Spallone said. ”The idea of them staying with a host family, and especially going to a French school and experiencing what the life of a teenager is in France was so appealing.”

Spallone took French students on field trips to France in the past, but she admits it was centered around tourism while her goal is to let her students interact with people and form new friendships. She found the editorializing that facilitates and finds schools with similar profiles and matches the schools together in order to make the transition smooth.

Spallone said that she was pleasantly surprised many people were interested in taking part in the program. 

“16 students are hosting this year and to say the truth, I thought that I would have far fewer,” Spallone said. “So I was really excited to see a high level of interest.”
26 French students participated in the exchange program, but Trinity had 16 students. Because of this, other non-French Trinity students get the opportunity to host the students and be their host family. Even though there are some non-French students hosting, it still gives the French students a glimpse of their lives and to practice their English.

On the first day the French students shadow their hosts and have a tour of Trinity to see the classes. In Spallone’s French class, the students prepared a slideshow of questions to ask the French students.

“We prepared a series of questions to ask them and we’re going to brainstorm about the things that really interest us about them,” Spallone said. “It was very much student driven.”

Outside of school, the French students visited places like Daytona beach, Disney and Universal. Each host family can choose to go somewhere fun with the exchange students and include them in family activities.

“They embark on the bus and they spend the day having fun,” Spallone said. “So there’s Cape Canaveral, St. Augustine and Daytona Beach. They’re also going to Universal Studios… I know some students are going to Halloween Horror Nights, watching some football games at school and even bowling.” Spallone said.

Freshman Olliver Polsinelli is hosting French exchange student Louis Zannier. Polsinelli wants to show Zannier how American culture differs from French culture and lets Zannier explore new sights. Polsinelli will also benefit from this experience and progress in the French language.

“I always wanted to learn more about France and French culture,” Polsinelli said. ”I thought this would be a good way to do that.”


Freshman Olliver Polsinelli poses for a photo with French exchange
student Louis Zannier.
Junior Claire Pankros eats lunch with her French exchange student
Emeline Quemerais.