Silver Chips Online

French Young Ambassadors to visit Blair

International students will spend nine days with Blair hosts

By Allison Daitch, Online Managing Editor
October 30, 2010
On Oct. 29, Blair families started hosting 10 French Young Ambassadors (FYA) out of the total 30 who are visiting the U.S. under the American Field Service (AFS) International Cultural Program and the Maryland Campus Compact (MCC).

Junior Leila Farrer (R) and her French student Nesrine Sersef in Downtown Silver Spring. Allison Daitch
Junior Leila Farrer (R) and her French student Nesrine Sersef in Downtown Silver Spring.
The FYA students were specifically selected through the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Paris to experience a diverse American high school environment. The students were chosen based on their leadership abilities and involvement in their communities. Many of the FYA students are from North African countries, while others have original French roots.

Each of the FYA students, as well as the group’s chaperone, will stay with a host family for nine days. Next week the students will shadow their hosts, select ESOL students and members of the National French Honor Society, through the hosts’ classes.

According to the FYA program letter, the purpose of the visit is to allow students to experience an intercultural exchange and to better understand the different cultures of the world. Blair FYA coordinator and French teacher Arlette Loomis believes that Blair will provide a welcoming environment for the visiting students. "Blair is so wonderful for diversity. The students will see here that we are tolerant of all cultures – it attracts many foreign schools," Loomis said. As a part of the program, the FYA are required to have a discussion with Blair students about topics such as culture, diversity and immigration.

Loomis hopes to discuss current French events that coincide with the FYA’s trip, such as the French student protests against the recently raised retirement age as well as the French government's ban on burqas in public. Loomis anticipates that the FYA will be surprised to see the religious tolerance at Blair.

The FYA also have other activities planned, such as watching the dress rehearsal for “Macbeth” on Wednesday and participating in a debate with Loomis’ AP French students. FYA student host junior Leila Farrer has many plans to show her exchange student Nesrine Sersef around, including sightseeing in Annapolis and Washington, D.C. and trick-or-treating on Halloween. "I thought it would be a great experience and I'm really excited to show her American culture," Farrer said.