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home : schools and education : schools June 25, 2016

9/26/2012 10:34:00 AM
The French connection
Exchange student will learn American lifestyle in Chelan
French foreign exchange student Lea Poirier walks through the front doors at Chelan High School.Courtesy photo
French foreign exchange student Lea Poirier walks through the front doors at Chelan High School.
Courtesy photo
Michelle Lovato
Staff Writer

CHELAN -- Host parents Tammy and Steven Peterson, of Chelan, are on a crash-course to learn French so they can enjoy conversations with their French foreign exchange student, Lea Poirier.

For now, the Petersons are leaning on their cell phone language translation software to bridge the gap between popular American English slang and the poetic melody of French vernacular.

Poirier arrived in Chelan Sept. 10 to begin her senior year at Chelan High School, a senior year she will have to repeat when she returns to France.

Thanks to about $10,000 and the International Student Exchange program, Poirier will experience the American lifestyle for the next 10 months.

On Tammy Peterson's list of things to do this year is showing the beautiful brown-haired French student the classic movie Star Wars. Poirier does not know how much American movie fans love Princess Leah, which is how Poirier's name is pronounced in French.

Things on Poirier's list are playing softball for the first time and taking part in the CHS drama club. She also plans to make quiche and crepes for her host family.

Poirier began her school year at Chelan High School Sept. 12. Three days into her senior year of American education,
Poirier knows that American life is different.

"Everything is big," Poirier said after seeing a muffin bought from a big-box retailer.

French school goes from early in the morning to 6 p.m. each day.

Students get a two-hour break in the middle of the school day and two 15-minute "pauses," between sessions. Students begin school at three years old and learn multiple languages as a matter of practicality, since European countries are so easily accessed.

"I like to speak with people in different places," Poirier said.

Poirier speaks Spanish, German, French and English. Poirier also wants to learn sign language in French and English.
French parents are also required to buy school books and bus service, Poirier said. American school books are provided by the school district.

In order to take part in the International Exchange Student program, Poirier worked as a restaurant server for about six months.

Her parents paid for her trip, but Poirier earned the money she will need while she is here.

"When I go back I will go back to work to repay my parents," she said.

"I don't like when my parents pay. I don't like to ask for money."

When she arrived last week Poirier said she brought some clothing with her, but expected to buy winter clothing here, since she learned that Chelan is hotter in the summer and colder in the winter than her home town in France.
Poirier comes from the French city of Maure de Bretagne and has an older brother David, 19, and a younger brother Mathieu, 15.

Maure de Bretagne has about 3,000 residents. Poirier said she is very close to her brothers. David spent his senior year in Kansas as a foreign exchange student. Poirier's mother is a teacher and her father sells building materials, she said.

Poirier plans on keeping in touch with her family via Facebook and Skype.

The Petersons decided to take in an exchange student because they enjoy children and theirs are grown.

"I enjoy children," Tammy Peterson said. "Learning about other countries is fascinating to me. We are really going to enjoy this year."

Poirier is the Petersons' first foreign exchange student.

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