BSM French Department Welcomes New Exchange Students


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Sophomore Henry Peterson welcomes a foreign exchange student from France.

Every year, the BSM junior and senior high French department host exchange students from France as a fun learning experience and new opportunity for both students at BSM and in France.

Sophomore Henry Peterson is a second year host for his French exchange student. He thoroughly enjoyed his first experience in the program as both himself and his family loved having him. “I had an opportunity in seventh grade to host somebody and so [I] chose to do it out of curiosity. He really enjoyed his time and I did too so I decided to do it again,” Peterson said.

As far as the language barrier, Peterson noticed a bit of a struggle at first but gradually it got easier to communicate. “Hugo first came to stay with my family in seventh grade. He didn’t know a lot of English but enough to get by. His accent was super heavy but he’s improved a lot. I taught him a lot of new words and he taught me some French too,” Peterson said.

I had an opportunity in seventh grade to host somebody and so [I] chose to do it out of curiosity. He really enjoyed his time and I did too so I decided to do it again,

— Henry Peterson

This memorable experience that many students are able to have wouldn’t be at all possible without the brains and the work behind the scenes. French teacher Amy Jo Hyde organizes this program as she communicates with the host program called Language & Friendship each and every year to make it all happen. “When I started teaching at BSM in 2007, I started to find host families for the summer program. Then in 2015, we started hosting kids in February,” Hyde said.

Students are able to build cherishable friendships even in their short time they have with their exchange students. The students come to Minnesota for roughly two weeks every February as their school has a two week break allowing them to travel. Most BSM students say they stay in communication with their foreign friends and help each other out with English and French. “The students stay in touch primarily via text and social media,” Hyde said.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 put a wrench in the system as the pandemic limited travel as well as students’ comfort levels with new faces. Recently, the program has been able to restore itself, but not fully. “For many years we had Japanese students come from our ‘sister school’ in Japan. We also used to have about 20 International students enrolled in BSM every year. Since Covid, it seems like these programs have not been re-started,” Hyde said.

Nothing but positive reactions come from participants of this program. The exchange students love being able to live a new life for a week or two and experience a teenage life in America whether that’s playing video games, or eating certain foods. “The French students loved their time in Minnesota and most said they would like to return next year,” Hyde said.