French immersion students at Ecole Davis Road became the stewards of their town last week when more than 20 Quebec students visited Ladysmith as part of a cultural exchange.
For one week from May 30 to June 6, the students reunited with their Quebec homestays, whom they visited in February, and participated in tons of activities, such as zip-lining at WildPlay in Cassidy, canoeing and a campfire at Transfer Beach, a day in Whistler and a trip to the Horne Lake Caves.
According to Ecole Davis Road teacher Sean Walsh, the students had to fundraise approximately $11,000 for the exchange. Through the SEVEC program, the two classes’ flights are paid for as long as they come up with the funds to show their exchanges a good time. To save on costs, the students are paired with a twin and are billeted with their twin’s families during the trip.
“It’s been amazing,” said Walsh. “It’s a hundred miles an hour, and it’s a lot of fun. There’s a lot of leadership, getting to know each other, and the Quebec kids learning English. I’d say learning independence is a big part of it too.”
For most of the Quebec students, it was their first time in B.C.
“It’s a lot different than Quebec,” said Frederique Lauze. “The twins are very sweet and friendly.”
One thing students learned was the difference between poutine in Quebec and poutine in B.C.
“Vancouver’s poutine sucks,” said Jeremy Blais, another Quebec student. “If I’ve got poutine, a bed and love, I’ve got everything.”
During their part of the exchange to Sainte-Croix, Que., Ecole Davis Road students got to experience everything from dog sledding to snowshoeing.
Josh Buffie of Ecole Davis Road said he has enjoyed sharing his home with the students but noted that he has also discovered lots of wonderful things about the place he lives.
“It’s been new for me too,” he said. “I’ve never been to Whistler.”
When asked if they would do an exchange like this again, the students all enthusiastically said yes without any hesitation.
“This is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity we’ll remember always,” said Xander Mann of Davis Road.
— with files from Lindsay Chung