The Mechanicsburg French Exchange Program


Amalia is pictured above with a group of MASH and French students beside the Mechanicsburg Wildcat.

Jenna Archer, Features Editor

Over the 2019 summer, a once in a lifetime opportunity was offered to the French speaking Mechanicsburg students. Students could apply to travel abroad to France in the beginning of June as a part of an exchange program. 

Students were able to live as a member of the French household for a few weeks, immersing themselves in the culture, learning French and experiencing French schooling at the Saint-Joseph Private School.

Now that it’s October, the French students joined their American partners here in the United States! On October 7th, the students arrived here at MASH after their flight landed at JFK.

On their first day, the French students were welcomed in a meeting with Mr. Harris and then took a tour of the high school. Many of the host families took the opportunity to take their students to see the Halloween parade later that night, which offered a unique experience to showcase how differently Halloween is celebrated between the two cultures.

From then on, it was a flurry of activities, all while the French students improved their English and our MASH students improved their French.

On October 9th, the participants in the exchange took a trip to Washington D.C., where they toured the White House, visited a variety of the national museums including the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and wrapped the day up with a tour of the different memorials, including the Washington Monument and the Lincoln memorial.

Sr. Amalia Ried and her exchange student, Océane, attended the day trip with the rest of the group. Amalia reflects, “I got the chance to rediscover a city I thought I already knew. Experiencing something familiar with people from another country was so much fun, and I would do it again in a heartbeat!”

The French students’ trip didn’t just line up well with the Halloween Parade but also the 2019 Homecoming dance! Many of the MASH host students brought their French partners with them to the dance, giving them a first hand experience of typical teenage American culture. Dressed in dashing outfits, the groups took to the gym to dance the night away.

Madame Charrier, MASH’s French teacher and one of the program’s main coordinators, describes one of her favorite memories from this year’s exchange as her students “having the courage to stand up one at a time and confidently speak in French in front of a room full of French-speaking parents and students.”

The French Exchange Trip was not only a great educational opportunity, but it also became a great life experience, as well. Students on both ends were able to immerse themselves in a culture they had never experienced before to enhance their language skills. 

But they didn’t just pick up on a few extra vocabulary words; they gained lifelong memories and new friends. Most of the participating students would agree: this was an unforgettable experience unlike any other.