Foreign language students gain world of experience

Franklin High School students and their teacher stand under the Eiffel Tower for a group selfie. (Submitted photo)

A whole new world opened up for some local foreign language students as they put what they learned in their classrooms to use abroad this summer.

Franklin Area High School students experienced the cultures of Costa Rica and France, and Cranberry High School students broadened their horizons with a trip to Canada.

Eleven students from Franklin teacher Jill Adams’ Spanish II, III and IV classes visited Costa Rica from June 24 through July 1, experiencing the wonders of the rain forest, Tortuga Island and Alajuela, the second-largest city in the country.

They also swam in hot springs, visited volcanoes, zip-lined and toured chocolate and pineapple plantations.

But the experience was not only about sampling new cuisine, taking in the sites and filling days with activities that would otherwise be, well, foreign. Time also was spent on a community service program.

The students volunteered with Hogar Dulce Hogar (Home Sweet Home), helping the organization as it was building a home for a family in need by sanding, painting, hanging drywall and breaking rock for the driveway.

“It is great being able to dive into another culture” and take in a mix of learning and fun, Franklin senior Becca Spencer said.

She also said the people were very friendly, which she didn’t expect after hearing stories about people around the world being unfriendly to Americans.

All in all, Adams said the trip could be described with the Costa Rican expression “pura vida” (pure life, among its many English interpretations).

There also were seven Franklin French Club members who spent six days in Paris earlier this month. Much of their time was spent visiting the city’s many sights, including the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame Cathedral.

The group also participated in a culinary walking tour of “hidden” chocolate and pastry shops, toured Versailles Palace and learned how to play a traditional French game called petanque, which involves rolling hollow steel balls toward a target.

While in the French capital teacher Breanna Morris’ students experienced Bastille Day, which is the French national day, but the celebration was marred as the nation mourned the victims of the Nice terror attack in which Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a Tunisian delivery man, drove a truck through a crowd, killing 84 people and injuring more than 100.

Cranberry teacher Shannon Sturdevant, 23 French language students and two Spanish language students traveled to Quebec City in mid-June. Students learned about Canadian history, toured the city and tried traditional French-Canadian food such as poutine, which is french fries with cheese and gravy.

Sturdevant said her students enjoyed seeing the Montmorency Falls, which are about 100 feet higher than Niagara Falls.

Cranberry junior Ian Hepler said that he enjoyed seeing Montmorency Falls because the falls are a natural wonder. He also described the maple syrup candy the group tasted at Erabliere du Cap, a traditional Quebec sugar shack, as the best thing he ate during the trip.

As far as putting his language skills to use, Hepler said, “French is my niche in school … personally, I felt pretty comfortable.”