By Megan Sulak, staff writer

Flying to Chicago from France, 15 students from Sections Internationales De Sèvres stayed with Prospect students from French classes three and four to experience an American lifestyle.

French teacher Jenna Sandstead took part in organizing the exchange this year, booking many activities for the students, such as a harmonica class at the Old Town School of Music, a tour of the University of Chicago, a bike tour downtown Chicago and an experience in Willis Tower.

The French exchange has been occurring for 14 years with Sections Internationales De Sèvres, which is a school in the city of Sèvres, Paris, a sister city to Mount Prospect.

One of the 15 Prospect students who participated in the exchange is junior Annie Cimack, who is a part of Honors French four. Cimack met her French student, Adèlie Aubin, at the airport and has had a very positive experience since the first day.

“It was really interesting to have someone my age, who I’d never met before, and from a different country stay in my house,” Cimack said. “I really enjoyed learning from her about French and just hanging out.”

Over the week the French students were in Chicago, Cimack said she enjoyed going to get ice cream at Oberweis with her and her best friend and driving and talks about whatever they wanted to.

At the end of the experience, not only did Cimack get more comfortable with the idea of travel, but she learned a lot more about their culture and language.

“It was really cool to see how similar we were,” Cimack said. “I learned about the parts of French slang and culture that aren’t really a part of the class {at Prospect}.”

Cimack is also ecstatic to visit France and experience a new place.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Adélie again. We’re able to talk thanks to social media and WhatsApp, but it really was amazing what a strong connection we were able to build over the course of a few days,” Cimack said. “Adélie’s mom is {also} a chef, so I’m looking forward to the food and of course the architecture and clothes.”

As well as Cimack, French student Annabelle Four-Pony took part in the exchange this school year. Although she has traveled to the United States before, she has never been to Chicago.

“It’s awesome. I’ve learned several things,” Four-Pony said. “I’ve learned about the culture, the school system and stuff like that.”

Four-Pony expressed her love for the art institute and her joy of having exchanges.

“I think {exchanges} are a good idea for schools to do because you’re in contact with the students who are approximately your age,” Four-Pony said. “I think it’s better than just going on a trip. You also make strong relationships.”

Cimack agrees.

“I think exchanges are really amazing opportunities because it’s a great way to learn about {the} culture,” Cimack said. “It’s very rewarding to finally be able to use a language you’ve been learning for years. I feel really grateful that I’ve been able to make friends with people I never would’ve met if it hadn’t been for the exchange.”