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Visiting students bring culture to St. Martin's

St. Martin’s Episcopal School recently welcomed 28 French students into the community for 10 days. Students from St. Martin’s and Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies housed the visitors for the duration of their stay.

The French and American students made the most of their short 10 days together. They attended a Pelicans game, bowled at Rock 'n' Bowl, and went on a field trip to the French Quarter. The French students attended class at St. Martin’s and Haynes Academy for two school days each. For some visitors, traveling to America is an experience they are never going to forget.

“Just to come, to come to America is already amazing,” said French Student Nalowenn Duault.

In the days leading up to their arrival, the host families were anxious to meet their students.

“I’m looking forward to teaching them about New Orleans and St. Martin’s and meeting new friends and teaching them more about English,” said Junior Bethany Black. “I really enjoyed seeing their reaction to crawfish and New Orleans and to being in the French Quarter.”

Many students had only heard about the United States and were eager to experience a new country.

“My family never went to the U.S.,” said French Student Youna Jan. “I am the first. It is a very good country, very beautiful.”

Although the students were very excited to be in the United States, most of them had not heard much about New Orleans.

“I know carnival and music,” said French Student Léna Noël. “When we talk about the USA, we don’t think about New Orleans first; we think New York, Los Angeles.”

The host families had two weekends to share with their host students, many choosing to spend the time showing them New Orleans.

“I think we had the most fun at French Quarter Fest,” said Senior Luke Jeanfreau. “Not only did they get to try many different foods and hear a lot of music, they also got to see a lot of the city. We even went to Crescent Park afterwards.”

“The language barrier was a bit of an issue, but I think they did great,” said Senior José Contreras. “They came with an open heart and were ready to embrace a new culture.”

The students and faculty from Haynes Academy, St. Martin’s, and France gathered on April 7 for a farewell dinner, which showcased the talents from both the American and French students. The French students put on a puppet show, and the American students sang songs in French from popular movies.

“I thought the dinner was very nice; everyone enjoyed it,” Contreras said. “I think we created a bond with the French students.”

Overall, the French exchange program was enjoyable for all those involved.

“It was really interesting

not only to learn about their culture, but also to see new aspects of ours,” Jeanfreau said.

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