by Andrew Martin
The visiting Swiss students and their hosts from PA stand outside the school building for a photo. The 16
visiting students were from Geneva and visited Morrisville and the surrounding area for one week in late March. ---Photo courtesy of D. Bain
Peoples Academy had a slightly international flavor in the last week. A group of 16 Swiss students and two of their teachers visited PA and the rest of Lamoille County between Saturday, March 23, and Saturday, March 30. The students attended class at PA, went on several field trips, and stayed in the homes of students from Morristown.
“The goal of having the students’ visit is to promote cultural and language learning,” explained PA French teacher Alvan Carr, who helps to run the program.
The Swiss students and their teachers are from Geneva, and they visited Morrisville as part of the French program at PA. In addition to the 16 students from Geneva visiting Morrisville, 16 students from Peoples also visited Geneva as part of the program. 2013 marks the 10th year students from Geneva and Peoples Academy have each made the trip to see each others’ hometowns and schools. The Swiss students in the program are between the ages of 17 and 19, while the PA students are between 16 and 18 years old.
“We look forward to hosting the Swiss students every year,” commented Peoples Academy Principal Phil Grant. “They bring a lot of positive energy and experience new things themselves while exposing our students to a different culture and way of life.”
The students from Geneva arrived in Morrisville on March 23 in time for a fish fry that was hosted by Stub Earle at River Arts. During their weeklong visit they attended school while also participating in a number of field trips. They visited Church Street in Burlington and Ben and Jerry’s in Waterbury, where they got to try a Vermonster. They also got a chance to experience a springtime Vermont tradition when they visited several local sugarhouses and had a sugar on snow tasting.
The host PA students also put on an ‘American’ style birthday part for two of the visiting Swiss students. Students played Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Twister, and had a piñata as part of the festivities. According to Mr. Carr, the Swiss students were very impressed by the party and by a number of other things during their visit.
“Riding an American yellow schoolbus, apparently a stereotypical image of American education, was hugely popular,” explained Carr, “They also had a great visit at the one room schoolhouse in Elmore, where they danced and learned with the younger kids.”
According to Carr several other things that seemed to impress the students was how ‘moody’ our dirt roads are at this time of year compared to those in Switzerland, as well as taking Drivers Education in order to avoid hitting all the local moose and turkeys.
“The stores being open on Sundays also impressed them,” commented Carr, “and they were amazed that students here have such a warm relationship with their teachers.”
During their stay, the Swiss students stayed in the homes of students in French classes at Peoples Academy. Carr said this aspect of the program is key.
“The home stay is a central part of the exchange where students get to learn about daily life here,” he explained.
The students from Geneva returned home on March 30 after attending winter carnival at PA.