Skip to content

Tofino and Ucluelet students excited to share French Trip experience with locals

Class to present on trip to Montreal and Quebec City in Ucluelet on June 19 and Tofino on June 20.
During their French Trip experience, Ucluelet Secondary School students checked out the Montreal Biodome, which offers a variety of wildlife exhibits including penguins and houses replicas of four different ecosystems.

West Coast youth were recently infused with East Coast culture and are preparing a power point presentation to share their experience with locals.

Students from Ucluelet Secondary School’s French class have returned from the school’s fifth successful French Trip and will present what they did and learned at the Ucluelet Community Centre on June 19 and the Clayoquot Sound Community Theatre on June 20.

Both presentations start at 7 p.m.

“It was amazing. It was such a great experience and I’m going to have all those memories of the whole trip lifelong in my brain. We did so much and we had so much fun,” class-member and Tofino local Sylvia O’Brien, 18, told the Westerly News. “We’re from such a small place with such a small variety of people. Going somewhere new and immersing yourself in that culture, I thought, was going to be a great experience and it was.”

The school has offered a French Trip every second year since 2009 and this year’s contingent saw nine of Rina Vigneault’s French students head out East on May 18 and return on May 27 excited to talk about the culture they’d been immersed in.

“Over the years, I have enjoyed every one of these trips with my students and I know how much of a difference it makes in the students’ lives,” Vigneault told the Westerly. “While being there, they are so proud of being able to communicate in French and enjoy the French culture. They come back more worldly and so much more knowledgeable about the diversity we have in our country.”

She said the class spent three days in Montreal and six in Quebec City, with each day packed with historical tours and cultural experiences unique to French Canada.

“This trip gives the students a chance to visit Quebec, find out about the French culture, the history and be immersed in French,” she said. “It gives them an opportunity to use the French they learned at school and it finally becomes real for them. Seeing 400 years of history, that they also learned about at school, makes them realize how much history our country has. They love the old French and English architecture, and discover how multicultural Montreal is.”

She added the trip helps prepare students for future travelling and also boosts their ability to help tourists at home.

“It prepares them for going travelling on their own. Several students go back to spend more time in Quebec afterwards, even if it is just to enjoy the summer festivals,” she said. “Then, they enjoy taking jobs in tourism on the West Coast and are proud of speaking French with the tourists.”

She added the class arrived in the middle of Montreal’s 375th anniversary and were delighted to take in the festivities while representing the West Coast well.

“It is a very busy trip, but we take advantage of everything while we are there. The students were fantastic, very polite and respectful throughout the trip. It was a real pleasure to travel with them. They made the trip a real success. I am very proud of them,” she said adding the class’ chaperon Torben Hansen did an “excellent” job.

“The students enjoyed using the subway in Montreal as their main mean of transportation, shopping whenever they could and were pleased to discover how practical it is to stay in youth hostels.”

Class member, and recent graduate, Evelina Hansen told the Westerly she had been looking forward to the French trip since Grade 8 and the experience did not disappoint.

“Every day was jam packed with activities. We experienced a lot of new things and a lot of fun things,” she said adding her favourite experiences included riding the subway and checking out the circus. “The architecture is so much different. It’s really beautiful there.”

Kassidy Cortes echoed Hansen’s enthusiasm.

“I’m grateful I got to go so that I could experience that side of Canada,” Cortes said. “We got to do amazing things.”

“It’s a chance to get a new perspective on Canada and life in general,” added class member Lukas Bewick. “It was mind-expanding to meet all these new people.”

He said the trip strengthened bonds between classmates.

“Being together for that extended period all the time really opened everyone up to each other,” he said.

Bewick, who is entering grade 12 next year, encourages younger USS students to work hard and earn their right to have their own French experience in two years.

“It’s a long road. It takes a lot of effort. You’ve got to want to do it and you have to put the work in. You can’t just be lazy about it,” he said. “It will be completely worth it.

He added Vigneault’s contagious enthusiasm as an educator helps makes her classes’ lessons stick.

“Mrs. V is always very excited to teach us,” he said. “She always gets into her lessons and is very passionate about what she does.”

Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
Read more