Sister City Seeking Student HostsFeb 01, 2024 09:33AM ● By Catherine Warder
Area French students and Francophiles, are you interested in connecting with French teens? Would you enjoy an opportunity to immerse yourself in French culture without having to plan your own trip? Did you know that Fredericksburg has ties to France? Read on!
Since 1980, Fredericksburg has had a partnership with Fréjus, in southern France, as part of the Sister City program, created after World War II by President Eisenhower. Its purpose was to build international ties and foster friendship and an understanding of different cultures through “citizen diplomacy.” To that end, the mission of the Fredericksburg Sister City Association Inc. is to cultivate a special friendship and cultural exchange between the citizens of Fréjus, and those of the Fredericksburg area.
Fredericksburg’s relationship with Fréjus has continued for 42 years and counting. In September of 2022, the FSCA hosted representatives from Fréjus for the 40th anniversary of the pairing, a celebration that had been delayed for two years due to the pandemic. Honoring anniversaries is one of numerous traditions shared by Fredericksburg and Fréjus. Here, we host an annual Bastille Day party, and every 10 years, we commemorate the anniversary of our founding with a Giant Omelet celebration. In Fréjus, they celebrate our 4th of July and Thanksgiving each year.
The hallmark tradition of the Fredericksburg-Fréjus Sister City Association, however, has been the Student Exchange Program. The exchange began in 1980 and has continued every year since, except for the 2-year disruption caused by COVID. In July of 2022, an even year, the exchange resumed, and we received a group of French teenagers, who stayed with American host families for approximately two weeks. In odd years, American students go to Fréjus. This coming summer (July, 2024), we will again welcome a group of French students to stay in the Fredericksburg area, so we are seeking students and their families who are interested in hosting. Those students who are selected to host will have the first option to be part of the 2025 exchange to Fréjus.
The ideal host student is between 14 and 17 years, and preferably has studied French for two years or more. Host families provide a “typical” American home atmosphere for their French exchange student. During weekdays, the American and French students will participate in numerous cultural and historical activities such as bus trips to D.C., Williamsburg, or Monticello, and trips to Kings Dominion and baseball games. On weekends, host families may organize further activities or excursions, as desired. Again, the objective of the exchange is to promote international understanding and to encourage friendships between our students and their French counterparts.
If you are interested in learning more about the exchange, or the Sister City program in general, visitwww.fredericksburgfrejus.com, or contact us at [email protected] or on our Facebook page, Fredericksburg Sister City Association. Applications will be sent to area French teachers in November, and will also be available on the website.
Catherine Warder is a French teacher at King George High School and currently serves on the FSCA Board of Directors. Her first experience with the exchange was to host a chaperone in 2018. Since then, both of her children have participated and she chaperoned trips to Fréjus in 2019 and 2023.