Buckingham Friends School Nurtures International Friendships
Eighteen students and two teachers were welcomed this spring to Buckingham Friends School from College Saint Martial in Montmorillon, France as part of a two week long Joint Environmental Mission (JEM) Student Exchange Program. BFS 4th- 8th Grade French Teacher and Outreach Coordinator, Isabella Schreiber commented, “What a valuable experience and opportunity to create international friendships and enrich our language curriculum in a safe setting were friendship among children can thrive.” During the visitors’ stay, each BFS student had the opportunity to meet and engage with our guests, improving their French language skills, exploring a different culture through social exchanges, and developing meaningful friendships and connections.
“Words honestly cannot express how grateful I am to be given this opportunity. At a certain point, I got so comfortable speaking French that I was able to joke around with the visitors all in French,” reflected Will Sadowski ‘19, BFS host student. Will continued to explain that this was possible due to the teachings of Madame Schreiber as well as his strong relationship with Baptiste, his pen pal, “we made it as easy as possible to communicate with each other by speaking in the opposite language as much as possible. In turn, his English and my French improved greatly throughout the course of the trip.”
Highlights of the exchange included: the Welcome Assembly, where a variety of talent and culture was shared with the community from both French and BFS students; the Upper School Day games, where team work and communication were key to successfully completing and participating in track and field style games; the trips to New York City, Washington DC, Philadelphia and Grounds for Sculpture, which introduced American history and culture to our French visitors; the Friday night dance; and a simulation about the impact of energy choices that encompassed this year’s JEM theme - the element of Air; but perhaps most notably, the homestay experience. “Hosting a JEM student provided our family with an unparalleled experience, it has opened up a whole new world for us. We now share an extraordinarily special and unique connection with a family overseas!” remarked Eileen Coryell, 2019 host parent. Eileen continued, “…my true feeling is, if I hadn’t taken the leap of faith I never would’ve discovered how amazing the program is.”
Keeping with BFS tradition, the French visitors were sent off at the end of the two weeks with a rousing cheer as they walked through the gauntlet and received high-fives from community members. While many farewell tears were shed, it is evident that this short two-week experience profoundly impacted the students. Says student Will Sadowski, “I am very sad to see everyone go, and I will truly miss everyone greatly, but I will walk away from this trip knowing I made many lifelong friends that I hope to keep in touch with.” En attendant de nous revoir.