French Exchange Program


Emily Banuelos and Bonnie Chen

On Feb. 13, our school began hosting its annual foreign exchange student program with the students and two teachers from France. This program serves as a great way for both Apaches as well as the French students to experience another culture away from home. 

This program was first inspired by the teacher exchange program Madame Vaughan was involved in, with an English teacher who taught at a school in France in 2008. Arcadia students didn’t start the exchange program with France until 2012. This program has since become an important annual event in our school as more and more French students are able to visit the U.S. Ever since the start of the spring break program in 2016, students from AHS got to stay in France for the whole break. 

This exchange program was created to “increase cultural awareness and add a global understanding of differences between cultural groups to allow for greater acceptance,” as explained by Madame Vaughan.

This year, they were able to find 21 students to host the 24 French students that are involved in the program. 

Of the 21 volunteers, Freshman Anna Odell particularly enjoyed this program, stating, “I was so excited that I could participate because I love the French language and culture, so I really wanted to meet a French student.” It can be challenging for hosting families to come up with activities to make students feel welcomed in a foreign country. For Anna and her new-made friend Selina Chalin, they were able to visit local museums and go mini-golfing.If given the chance, Anna would definitely host another exchange student, since “it has been a great experience so far and [she] want[s] to use it as an opportunity for [her] to practice and speak more French.”

The French students enj0yed this exchange program just as much as their hosts because they got to make lasting friendships and visit some of California’s popular attractions such as Universal Studios, The Broad Museum, DTLA, and the Huntington Library. The French students also got to experience an American student’s day in the life.

Junior French student Romain Delacroix, says, “I love it so much here in LA because of the different environment from home. AHS has also been a wonderful experience! I love how they offer creative, hands-on extracurriculars such as stagecraft. Though, there are a lot more students at this school than we have back home which was an adjustment.” 

When asked about the well-being of her students, Madame Vaughan explains, “Sometimes students get homesick and sometimes students don’t know how to ask their families for what they need and so we do a lot of counseling as well.” 

There are also many preparations that need to be done before the students can visit our school. For instance, the hosts choose their exchange student from photos, letters, as well as messages from them, which would allow them to find commonalities between them. 

According to Madame Vaughan, they also start contacting the exchange students starting Sept. “It is a big commitment to find a host family and to take a group of about 15 of our students to travel to France every year, but it is all worth it [in the end],” according to Madame Krikorian. 

This year’s group will sadly be returning home on Wednesday, Feb. 26. Mademoiselle says jokingly, “I measure the success of the program by the students crying. The more people crying the more successful the trip was.” 

“I just want to say that this program has been a great addition to our French program and the highlight of the year for us,” Madame Krikorian elaborates.

Students that can either host a French student or travel to France are both “experiencing immersion in the language they are studying,” adds Madame Vaughan. “The district has been extremely supportive of this program and we are grateful for the flexibility that they have extended to us.”


Photo Courtesy of Madame Vaughan