Chargers visit Europe for life-changing trip

Senior Becca Pierce and former Chantilly junior Hannah Snarr pose in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Jane Kang, Staff writer

Learning a foreign language is a common experience all students share, but only a small number of them decide to take their love for another country outside of the classroom.

This past summer, seven students embarked on an excursion to Perpignan, France to experience the rich culture and language of the country first-hand. While staying with a host family and visiting monumental landmarks, they learned about the country in greater depth and practiced using the language.

“Everything about France is so beautiful,” junior Faith Foster said. “Knowing the language and being able to communicate with people gave me such an accomplished feeling.”

Participants of the program traveled throughout France and Spain, visiting popular tourist locations such as the Louvre Museum, the Eiffel Tower, Park Güell and the Notre Dame Cathedral.

“It was really amazing to see all the different cultures,” senior Becca Pierce said. “One of my favorite parts was staying with the host family.”

Living with a host family provides a more authentic picture into the life of an average high school student in France and encourages the learning and usage of French.

“I really got to practice my language, and [I] could really see how [French residents] live life there day-to-day,” Pierce said.

Students will be hosting their own exchange students from Chantilly, France this Oct. 14-28.

“I encourage students to consider hosting,” French teacher and program co-sponsor Elaine Gonzalez said. “It’s an experience that you have to go through to appreciate.”

French and social studies teachers from Chantilly High School initiated the exchange program, and as a result, the trip incorporated French history alongside its culture and language.

Another trip will take place this spring break; Chantilly students will visit Normandy’s beaches, the Mont-Saint-Michel and Paris, expanding their historical and cultural knowledge and learning through experience.

“If you have the money and the time, [the exchange program] is one thing you have to do,” Foster said. “You have to take an opportunity like that to go travel the world and get out of Fairfax County to see other things; do other things.”