Thirteen Bethel High School students and their French teachers, Alisa Trachtenberg and Yilber Beshi, just returned from a week-long home-stay exchange trip to Quebec which took place from April 3-11, 2014. This was Bethel’s fourth consecutive year participating in an international exchange program.
“BHS Students learned first-hand what it is to be a global citizen, forging bonds with people of other nations, using their linguistic skills to communicate and discovering the richness and uniqueness of both the American and Quebecois Cultures,” said Mrs. Trachtenberg.
The itinerary was planned by the hosting teacher, Mme Gagne. Bethel students visited a famous circus school, learned to make maple syrup at a Canadian sugar shack, attended school with the host students, and sampled some Quebecois specialties like fresh cheddar, sugar cones, and maple butter. As the trip progressed, Bethel high schoolers became well-acquainted with Canadian culture and took note of both the cultural and visual differences between Quebec and the U.S.
After experiencing Quebec first-hand, “The students found the Canadians to be much more relaxed and easy-going than Americans,” says Mrs. Trachtenberg. They came to this conclusion based on the huge number of common spaces for socializing, game rooms, and comfortable chairs at the Canadian school.
The school differs so much from our school by the 15 minute class change times, the hour lunch and the mandatory extra-curriculars at the day. “It gave us a chance to see a much different school environment compared to our wide hallway, BHS,” says Paul Rodgers ‘14. “It was awesome to see how a different culture learns in their classroom environment, especially on how they learn American and world history from the Canadian point of view. It was awesome making friendships and bonding with the Quebec students.”
These customs were not hard to get used to apparently, because as Mrs. Trachtenberg explains, “Many of our students were commenting on how they had a fabulous time, did not want to leave and wished they could spend break there. A number of students were teary-eyed at the thought of leaving.”
“The most rewarding part of the trip was establishing a relationship with a new culture and friendships,” says Victoria Maceira ‘14. “It was mind altering to be in an environment that spoke a different language. I could finally understand the perspective of Quebec students who found America so amazing. Furthermore, I know that I constructed life-long friendships with some of the students.”
“I miss Quebec constantly, and am already planning a trip back,” add Maceira. “I am a huge activist for student exchange programs because it changes perspectives and lives.”