Exchange program continues for seventh year

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Photo Courtesy of Cassidy Bruner

The Tahitian exchange students pose for a picture after their dance performance in the Little Theater on Nov. 1

Will Sallaverry, Copy Editor

The Halloween season brings with it candy, costumes, and bad decisions, but what some students are excited about is the arrival of the Tahitian exchange students. For those who don’t know, every October French teacher Tahia Rosenthal-Cox runs an exchange program with Lycée Samuel Raapoto, a Tahitian high school.

While it’s an established tradition, the components and significance of the program may be less well known. In its seventh year Rosenthal-Cox is excited for what this visit has in store.

She says that the idea for the program came from a French teacher at Tam who made exchange programs sound so enriching for students that she knew Drake had to have one.

“He organizes trips to Italy for the art class; he organizes trips to London for the theater class; and because I’m from Tahiti, we talked and I thought why don’t I start an exchange program with Tahiti.” she said.

Students might know the Tahitians for their performance in the Little Theater, but according to Rosenthal-Cox, there are more activities that come with the program. The visit kicked off with a potluck breakfast thrown by ASB and the French class on Friday Oct. 27 during second period complete with games, music, and Safeway doughnuts. The events only get more adventurous as the visit progresses.

“We go bowling, because they don’t bowl, and it’s a great way to break the ice.” That event was on Monday the 30th. Their visit is full of activities that immerse them in the school’s culture and make them feel welcome.

Rosenthal-Cox says the most important thing that comes out of the exchange is lifelong friendships and appreciation for other cultures.

“This isn’t just a linguistics program, it’s a cultural exchange. When they come they come to America, for them, America is big lights and rock and roll. It really creates a bond between students. Some have been friends for five years. I’ve had Tahitians come back to Marin for Christmas without me. This exchange creates friendship, I hope, for life.” She said.

She also emphasized the importance of Drake students experiencing the world beyond Marin when they travel to Tahiti second semester.

“They have to go out of their comfort zone, they have to face their fears. They are immersed in a family and a culture where they don’t speak the language. They go fishing with rays and sharks and by the end I have to pull them out of the water.” She said.

Rosenthal-Cox believes it’s hard for her students to keep up in Tahiti but in the end it pays off and everyone has an amazing, memorable time.

“From what my students tell me, it has been the most enriching, changing, loving experiences of their life. And that’s why I have students go back.” She said.

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