Anticipation is high among WA students for French exchange program


Katrina Lackner

The front cover of the itinerary that Westford Academy students will be using during their time in France.

Peier Li, Staff Writer

Departing on Friday, Feb. 17, twenty-three students from WA will be participating in a cultural exchange to France to stay with their corrés (French for “exchange partner”) families. The trip will last fifteen days, organized by Katrina Lackner, one of WA’s French teachers, and accompanying the students will be Karen Sacco, the French teacher from Blanchard, and Betsy Murphy, the class of 2024 dean. Now, students will finally be able to travel abroad and enroll in French schooling systems to experience their culture and lifestyles.

“I am very excited to go, as it has been roughly four months since our French corrés have left,” junior Henry Longtin said. “The exchange will provide an opportunity to make use of years of studies, as we now have the chance to participate in real-world discussions and situations.”

While abroad, they will spend a night in the Loire Valley, and two nights in Paris, with the rest of the time being dedicated to spending time with their host families in and around Rouen, a city in the Normandy region of France.

“I’m very excited to see my friends once more because we grew very close [when they came to America in October] so I’ve been missing hanging out with them,” junior Aamir Kapasi said. “Getting makeup work done will be a challenge since we are missing a week of school, but I think it will be worth it for the experience in France.”

Along the way, students will have many opportunities to taste the local cuisine and get involved in French traditions and customs. They will stroll through historic neighborhoods in Paris and visit Chambord Castle, an architectural masterpiece commissioned by King Francis I in the 16th century, inspired by the work of Leonardo Da Vinci.

“Whether it be at the dinner table, a school lesson, or a soirée, the use of the French language extends far beyond a simple lesson in class,” Longtin said. “Of everything, I am simply most excited to experience the culture, and learn more about the culture.”

At the end of their trip, they will say their farewells to their host families and travel to Paris for two nights, where they will then roam around the Latin Quarter, and of course, climb the Eiffel Tower. They will also attend their corrés’ private school in Rouen at La Providence Nicolas-Barré, or La Pro, as the Rouennais, the people from Rouen, call it.

“My partner Tom and I are most excited to be going to the different sites within France and experiencing the usual French culture in school,” junior Raunak Kothari said. “The schools are very different [from ours] and the style of teaching is also different from what the exchange members have told me. It will also be one of my first times out of the country [without my family] so I can’t wait to experience that.”

Some highlights the students look forward to will include a trip to the famous Rouen Cathedral, famous for being the subject of paintings by Claude Monet, a visit to Mont Saint-Michel, an island abbey that is among the most visited sites in France, visiting the chateaux of the Loire Valley, and paying tribute to American soldiers at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.

“Past exchange students have made meaningful connections during their time abroad and remain in contact with their corrés throughout their lives,” Lackner said. “It will be an unforgettable experience for the students traveling.”