Across borders: W-L welcomes French exchange students


Our school continued an important program this October by welcoming exchange students from Reims, France. A group of families volunteered to host students who were visiting from their own high school across the Atlantic. The exchange program serves as a way for French students studying English to improve their language skills and experience the culture and traditions of the United States. At the same time, students learning French had the chance to learn about France and its culture.

On October 12, the students arrived at Dulles, where they were welcomed and met their hosts for the first time. Sophomore Isabella Frymoyer remembers that first meeting as a nice experience. “The first day I met her, she gave me a necklace and cookies,” she said.

Although the exchange students spent their first few days exploring monuments and museums in Washington, D.C., they soon shifted to taking trips to other iconic places, outside of the district. As a group they had the chance to visit Philadelphia, where they saw Independence Hall, Congress Hall, City Hall and the Liberty Bell. The highlight of their visit, though, was the three day trip to New York City, where they even experienced the important U.S. tradition of McDonald’s food. Most of the students also went to our Homecoming dance and game.

By the end of the two weeks, the hosts and their student formed a bond that stretched across borders. “It was cool because I got a new friend. We still keep in touch, and we still Skype,” Frymoyer said. This is why Reims and Arlington are more connected than ever. Every year, there are new international friendships between these two sister cities.

The exchange program is run by the Arlington Sister City Association (ASCA), and not sponsored by the school. Arlington has several policies on international travel that make harder to organize these exchanges. “Most international trips” are considered non school-sponsored, according to the policy implementation procedures of the school board. ASCA does run an exchange to France, but it occurs after the end of the school year to follow these policies.

Despite those restrictions, our relations with Reims have remained strong. When asked about the necklace her exchange student gave her, Frymoyer said, “I still wear it now.”