Ten Days in France with Community High School

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This April, 10 Community High students will be flying to Paris for a school trip, giving them a chance to experience the culture and learn the language. The French trip is a 10-day trip, including five days of homestay and five days of sightseeing over spring break.

The French trip was started by Liz Stern and Tracy Anderson in 2007, when they were the French teachers at Community High School. Stern and Anderson went on the trip twice before Danelle Mosher, the current French teacher, took over. Mosher and Stern were the chaperones on the last trip and will be going again on this year’s trip.

The largest difference between Community’s trip and other Ann Arbor schools’ trips is the homestay. Each of the students going on the trip is paired with a French teenager with similar interests and stays with them for five days. It is an amazing opportunity to see the non-tourist side of France. Students even get to spend a day in a French school with their host.

“Some students form lifelong bonds with their host families,” Mosher said. Seeing them come back after the homestay is both Stern’s and Mosher’s favorite part of the trip. According to Mosher, sometimes when students that have gone on the trip go back to France, they make arrangements to meet up with their host family or even stay at their house.

Students return from the homestay excited, full of stories and emotion. “They are all hugging each other and sometimes they are crying and exchanging numbers. It is really a great thing to see,” Stern said.

During the homestay, the chaperones get to spend some time on their own in France, but most of it is spent planning. They do everything from making reservations to figuring out the best routes to take. “We plan out the three days that we are going to be guides so that when the kids come, it is really seamless,” Stern said. “We move, man! We see Paris.”

Although Stern and Mosher do have some say in the trip, most of the planning is done by the students. During French Club every week, students help develop the itinerary for the trip based on what they want to do. Some of the attractions that they visit every year are the Eiffel Tower, the Arc De Triomphe and several famous museums.

According to both Stern and Mosher, the last day of the trip is the biggest draw for students. The kids get to go off in their own little groups around France. Mosher has noticed that Community students do a great job at being responsible in Paris because of the independence that they are given at school.

The trip has not changed very much from when it was started. The largest change is in the number of students that go. The first trip took 17 students and now around 10 is the goal. 10 students is a lot more manageable since the group eats together in restaurants and takes the metro. It is unlike big school trips in that there is no giant bus carrying them around from attraction to attraction. “The goal is to teach the students how to travel around France on their own,” Mosher said.