On Tuesday, May 21, 29 students and three teachers from Trois Rivières, Québec arrived at Neepawa Area Collegiate for the second half of their two week SEVEC student exchange.
SEVEC stands for Society for Educational Visits and Exchanges Canada. Thirty Grade 9 and 10 students as well as three teachers from NACI had already traveled to Québec from Jan. 30 to Feb. 6. During their week away, they had a chance to learn more about the area around Trois Rivières, Quebec City, and Montréal. Now it was their chance to show their “twins” what friendly Manitoba had to offer.
Their week consisted of some activities with other students at the school including the HOPE community breakfast, student council “half-day” activities and a school dance.
There were also many other cultural and heritage tours and activities such as a visit to Acadia Hutterite Colony, the Manitoba Agricultural Museum, the Spirit Sands in Spruce Woods Provincial Park, Riding Mountain National Park, St. Boniface Museum, Theater in the Cemetery, the Forks, and the Manitoba Museum.
They rounded out their week at a Goldeye's baseball game including fireworks following the game.
The “Exchanges Canada” explains that “by exploring another community, youth from the ages of 12 17, have the opportunity to learn a second language, develop cultural awareness, break down social barriers and develop leadership skills.
This enriching educational exchange program enhances learning and provides participants with an experience that lasts a lifetime. Travel costs (for participants to each community) are funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage.”
The two weeks spent with each other certainly delivered all that “Exchanges Canada” promised and more.
This was the first SEVEC student exchange offered through Neepawa Area Collegiate, but after a successful two weeks, it certainly will not be the last one!
The NACI students proved once again that they are wonderful ambassadors of their school, community and province!
The experience of travelling from Neepawa to Quebec was also a challenging one for students, pushing them to get a bit out of their comfort zone to both make new relationships and learn a new language. Aside from spending time in Quebec, the NACI students also stayed in their “twins” homes during evenings and mornings.
“It was different but really good. I was really nervous when I first left, I wasn't sure if it'd go well, but I'm glad I went,” Grade 9 student Jennifer Drader said. “I understood a little bit of French when we went there but I learned quite a bit. At my twin's house her mother didn't know english so I always had it translated through the twin.”
The NACI students also found the version of French they learn is slightly different than that spoken in Quebec; NACI students learn the typical “Paris” French, while there's more of a “Quebec French” spoken in Trois Rivieres.
“They had some slang and it was difficult because their accents were really strong,” Grade 10 student Megan Dyck explained. “They talked fast but they probably think we do the same.”
The students also enjoyed the historical portion of the trip, visiting “Old Quebec” and even seeing an old cannonball still lodged in a tree. The youth were also surprised by a few “cultural” differences like the fact milk is in bags instead of jugs or cartons in Quebec.
As for their Quebec “twins”, NACI students say they enjoyed their time in Neepawa but their reactions were all fairly similar at first.
“The first thing they said was, “it's flat”,” Grade 10 student Andy Kostenchuk joked. “But they seemed to like it here.”