For three weeks this year, senior Michael Adamson hosted a French exchange student. Eliott Jacquot attende BVN from February 23rd to March 3rd. Being his first time in the United States, Jacquot considered it a good experience, even though it was different than what he had been expecting.
“I thought America was like the movies, like high school musical,” Jacquot said, “It’s different, but the school is better than high school musical.”
Although this was how Jacquot felt after he arrived in Kansas and had seen BVN, it was not his initial reaction. At first, he recalled not feeling particularly excited because he wasn’t here by choice.
“I didn’t choose to come, my school chose for students to come,” Jacquot said, explaining that it was a required of students in his school to do foreign exchange trips.
Jacquot admitted that it took some adjustment to fit in at BVN, considering the cultural differences and the language barrier he encountered. An aspect of student life that stuck out to him was the way students and teachers interacted.
“I was surprised, because it was different to be a part of the class,” Jacquot said. “And by the teacher because you can high five your teacher.”
Jacquot’s schedule was exactly like Adamson’s. He stayed with his host student and attended the same classes, with some variation.
“He kind of follows me, sometimes he goes to French classes and present or he’ll try classes like orchestra or computer science, but mostly he just sees what my day is like,” Adamson said. “He can participate as much as he wants. I think it’s a good experience because he says that, in France, you never participate with you class like you do in America.”
Jacquot felt most at home attending Adamson’s French class, but said he valued the experience of being able to see other classes.
“My favorite class is French because I can speak in French,” Jacquot said. “I like Chinese class because, in France, you can learn the Chinese when you’re in university, not in high school, so it was interesting.”
Adamson and Jacquot found time to get to know each outside of school, as well, and used it as an opportunity to visit popular tourist attractions in Kansas City.
“I took him to a lot of sights, so I always let him choose where we’re going and then we kind of drive and just go somewhere random,” Adamson said. “We go to a lot of monuments, that maybe ones even I haven’t been to before, in Kansas City, and just explore.”
Jacquot cited sightseeing as one of his favorite experiences of the trip. His favorite spots were located downtown.
“I’ve been downtown,” Jacquot said. “I think it’s very interesting. It’s very big, the buildings are very high. The museums because there’s a lot of museums and it’s not very far from home. I went with Michael’s class and I saw a Chinese museum, it was very interesting.”
Adamson and Jacquot were also able to bond through the BVN Diversity assembly. Both participated in the Bollywood dance, which Adamson felt was a way to see Jacquot in a different light.
“Bollywood dance was my favorite memory because he was just thrown into it and he was actually enthusiastic about dancing and it was fun to see him be part of a group,” Adamson said.
Jacquot had few complaints about the U.S. He enjoyed his experience and found only one thing he wanted to change.
“Food was better in France, here the food is [high in calories],” Jacquot said.
Despite their differences, Adamson felt that the common ground they’d found was enough for him and Jacquot to build a friendship.
“I connect to Eliott with music, comedy,” Adamson said. “We watched pink panther the other day. Both of us make a lot of mistakes in each other’s languages and bond over that because we’re both kind of dumb. It’s not like making fun, it’s like we’re both here to learn, we just laugh.”
Realizing that he had more in common with Jacquot than he did things that were different was a lesson that Adamson said he was glad to have learned through the experience of hosting an exchange student.
“I hosted because I wanted to learn more about the world and it’s a great thing to share your culture and learn someone else’s culture in your own home, in daily activities,” Adamson said. “It’s great and it’s the best way to get to know someone and there’s things that you can’t really communicate that you learn about different people and cultures that you learn when they come to your house and live with you. Just around the dinner table, mannerisms are different and it’s something good to see. It’s also good with exchange students because you see that there’s less differences between people and learn that there’s more similarities, which we can forget sometimes.”