Students prepare to host teenagers from the French exchange program


Alex Coburn

Several Manual French students stayed with families in France as part of the French exchange program last year. Those French host students will be coming to visit Manual from April 19 to April 27 this year, and all of the students are currently preparing for their visits.

“I’m trying to learn as much French as possible so I can talk to her and make her feel comfortable,” said Hannah Phillips (11, J&C). “I Snapchat her and message her a lot to keep close with her as well. When the time gets closer, we will set up the guest room for her.”

Unlike most of the other students, Phillips has already hosted a foreign exchange student.

“We’re pretty prepared since we are experienced with short-term exchange students,” Phillips said. “We had one from Egypt named Ramah when I was a Freshman who stayed with us for two weeks, so this is somewhat familiar.”

Vaannila Annadurai (10, MST) is also hosting a French exchange student, 16-year-old Pauline Maxille.

“I’m trying to learn more conversational French and trying to listen to French speech so I know what she’s saying when she gets here,” Annadurai said. “I’m also trying to find out who else has exchange students so we can hang out together.”

Phillips experienced some culture shock during her trip to France last year, so she wants to make sure Laetitia will be as comfortable as possible.

“I had a lot of trouble with the family dynamic,” Phillips said. “I am used to a busy life with only my mom and our dogs around the house, but when I went there, all of a sudden I had two parents, five sisters, and the biggest dog I’d ever seen. Everything there is a lot more formal, so she will probably have a hard time adjusting to the informality of everything here. We don’t always sit down for dinner, and my schedule is always different, which is not something she is used to.”

Annadurai believes Pauline will adapt to life in the United States pretty easily.

“For the most part she seems like a regular teenager that would live in America,” Annadurai said.

The foreign exchange students will be in town for junior prom, which is unusual to the students.

“They don’t have prom in France, but Laetitia tells me that she and her friends ‘dream of an American prom,'” Phillips said. “She can definitely meet all my friends and it will be fun to dress up and get ready with her. I’m mostly excited for her even though it’s my prom because this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for her and I am so happy that she will be able to experience it. She already has her dress picked out and everything.”

Annadurai said she might not be attending prom because she is a sophomore. However, she has a lot of other things to look forward to with Pauline.

“I’m looking forward to so much,” Annadurai said. “I’m excited to be able to expand my French skills with someone actually from France living with me. I really like meeting new and different kinds of people, so I’m really excited to be able to note our similarities and differences. I’m excited to introduce her to my school friends.”