For the fourth year in a row, Gorham High School students who study French in the upper levels will have a chance to be immersed in French-Canadian culture by spending a day across the border.
The initiative, which aims to increase students’ cross-cultural competency and pride of the local French heritage, began with a day trip in December 2014 to Coaticook, where the group dined in a restaurant, explored the supermarket and visited the famous Laiterie de Coaticook for ice cream. During a 2015 trip, students participated in a scavenger hunt organized by the Ressourcerie des Frontieres, a recycling and conservation center. The Gorham High School group that year was greeted by the press and the story of their visit appeared in two Quebec newspapers and on one radio station.
This year the French III class visited Coaticook on Sept. 29, where they spent the day touring the local library and listening to a “storytime” session, eating in a French restaurant, shopping at a thrift store and a supermarket, and seeing the Foresta Lumina light show at Parc de la Gorge. Other trips this year will include a French IV class and a sociology class collaboration to visit the Universite de Sherbrooke for a campus tour and a French IV class and AP biology class trip to the Zoo de Granby.
The trips have been different each year, but each trip involves the application of French and some interesting discoveries about language and culture. Students are always surprised by the Canadian accent and the fact that so many Quebecers speak English.
They are even more surprised when they manage to communicate without using any English. In many cases, it is the first time students have been able to travel outside the United States. The day trips are possible since students on school trips who are under 19 are permitted to travel using their birth certificates and written permission from their parents.
The majority of students in Gorham have family members who speak French, and in many cases they have relatives who live in the region just north of the border. Given that the use of French within North Country families has died out in recent generations, the trips are part of an attempt to maintain its use and to build appreciation for the French ancestry shared by many people in the region.
The initiative will receive funding from the Neil and Louise TIllotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation for the next three years. Success of the trips to Quebec will be measured by increased use of French within homes, especially across generations, as well as increased comfort of families to venture beyond the border and be immersed in Quebec culture.
Cutline: On the left side of the bus, from front to the back, and then from back to fron on the right side of the bus: Carley Roy, Isabelle Balch (the one holding the money), Grimmie Jones, Sophia Allen, Gavin Corrigan, Bryce Gauthier, Robert Morehouse, JT Harrington; Olivia Cyr (in center), Alexis Kruskie (sitting in back), Melvin Olson, Karyssa Lachance, Hannah MacDonald, Abbie Bernier, Kyle Tetreault and Bryanna Taylor.