In March, 27 students from St. Maximilian Kolbe CHS in Aurora and St. Brother Andre CHS in Markham went to France as the second part of a cultural exchange program. This cultural exchange program was organized, with the help of the Canadian Education Exchange Foundation, Allison Posner, Teacher at St. Maximilian Kolbe, and Joseph Chow, Teacher at St. Brother Andre.
The student group arrived at Bordeaux-Merignac airport and was warmly greeted by their French peers, who had visited Toronto last October. As part of the exchange, students and teachers stayed with their French counterparts during their stay in La Brède, France. Their time spent in La Brède strengthened the friendships that were formed between the two groups, students and teachers alike, during the French students’ visit to Canada in October.
In October, the families, students, and teachers from St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Brother André who participated in this program opened their homes to the students and teachers from France. With the goal of exchanging culture, participants organized many exciting excursions that included a guided tour of the city of Toronto, a visit to the CN Tower, a Toronto Argonauts game, an exploration of the ROM, a shopping trip to the Toronto Eaton Centre, a spectacular day visiting Niagara Falls that included a thrilling close up view aboard the Hornblower. There were also an assortment of activities organized by the families during the evenings and weekend, which included Halloween parties, and a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Within that short week in October, the French guests were immersed in a great variety of activities that strengthened their understanding of Canadian culture.
In March, the group spent seven days in La Brède during which time participants climbed Europe’s largest sand dune, la Dune du Pilat, explored Le Bassin D’Arcachon and saw l’île aux oiseaux (also known as the island of the birds). They also visited the Château Montesquieu and Château Roquetaillade, and enjoyed eating the local French cuisine served by the host families.
Before returning to Canada, the group stopped in Paris, which rendered the students spellbound. They visited the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, Sacré Coeur Basilica, and the Eiffel Tower. The trip to Paris instilled an appreciation for architecture, history, and culture in the students.
“This journey gave us a greater perspective of the world and expanded our cultural horizons,” said Daryna Skybina, a Grade 12 Student at St. Maximilian Kolbe CHS. “Thank you to Mrs. Posner and Mr. Chow for organizing the trip, and to Ms. Ierullo, Mr. Moyo and Mrs. Moyo for supervising it. Without them, our lives would not have been forever changed by this unforgettable experience.”