Keziah Mee - Teacher of Modern Foreign Languages
For the first exchange to our twin town of Marans in almost 20 years, a group of 23 pupils and 3 staff from Humphrey Perkins School set out in eager anticipation from Barrow at 2am on Good Friday. Pupils had been in contact with their French counterparts since January and were finally going to meet face-to-face.
Sailing from Portsmouth, we enjoyed a sunny afternoon on deck, with pupils and staff alike reclining in deckchairs with a book, playing a game of table tennis, or even participating in a limbo competition. Following a lengthy coach journey through Western France, we finally arrived at our destination and met the families we would be staying with for the week.
Our experiences of staying with French families were incredible – everyone went out of their way to ensure we had a good time during our stay. So many pupils have developed strong friendships, not just with their exchange partner, but also with their whole family, and are keen to return to Marans in the future.
One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to the Futuroscope theme park, which was quite unlike anything we had experienced before. Rather than an endless succession of rides, we experienced a series of unique and futuristic attractions based around 3D and 4D cinema, science and technology, in which everyone found something to interest them.
During our stay, we were also received at the town hall by the mayor of Marans, before a visit to the local primary school where we taught English songs and games to the children. Finally, we had the opportunity to experience lessons at our host school, Collège Marie Eustelle.
Our departure came round far too quickly (we will extend the trip by 1 day next year) and we said goodbye to our hosts, looking forward to their visit to Barrow in July. Finally, we explored aspects of the historical ties between England and France with visits to the Bayeux Tapestry and the Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches, before the ferry back to England.
Everyone involved has benefited from the exchange in so many ways - linguistically, socially and culturally. Even in our modern, interconnected world, there is no substitute for real-life interaction with other human beings, and being able to express yourself and communicate with others. We hope this will be the first of many exchanges, now that the link between the young people of Barrow and Marans has been revived.