French Exchange Program Begins 20th Year

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French Exchange Program Begins 20th Year

By Glo Robinson

For the twentieth year, exchange students from the Gaston Febus school in Orthez, France, will come to Tam and attend classes with student hosts from October 29 to November 9.

The creator of the program, French teacher Brian Zailian, is planning special events including a Halloween party, a Thanksgiving banquet, and a reception with the Tam administration to celebrate 20 successful years of the program.

Over the years, the World Languages department has created a unique exchange program that allows 28 students from Orthez to come and experience American culture at Tam each year, as well as a group of Tam students to visit France later in the year and stay with the families of the student they originally hosted.

“I launched the program in 1996…I wanted to create a genuine exchange between families at Tam and families in Orthez, France,” Zailian said. “I had a similar experience when I was younger, and so I wanted to bring the opportunity to Tam High.”

To celebrate 20 successful years of the Foreign Exchange student program, special arrangements have been made. For the first time ever, the principal from Gaston Febus will be traveling with the students to America and will observe the host program at Tam.

In addition, a reception will be held for the exchange students coming to Tam, at which they will meet a collective of Tahitian exchange students who will be visiting Drake High School as part of an exchange at the same time as the students from Orthez.

Since the beginning of summer, fourth year French students, who are mostly juniors, have been corresponding with their foreign exchange students who will be hosting them via Skype and email. When the students arrive, they will attend classes at Tam and explore the Bay Area.

French teacher Catherine Welter felt that Tam’s French exchange program presents a unique opportunity for students. “What makes Tam High’s foreign exchange program unique is the fact we carefully organize the trip ourselves… instead of going through a travel company,” Welter said.

Tam has sent over 500 students to Gaston Febus over the last 20 years. “We therefore know the school, the staff and family in Orthez and they know us,” Zailian said. “A long-term relationship creates a rich, long history.”

Senior Jackie Flax felt that the experience was valuable.“Last year I really enjoyed being a part of the foreign exchange program and learned so much,” Flax said.

Welter enjoys the experience of hosting the exchange students. “I always look forward to the French students coming to Tam,” Welter said.