Most of us have heard about the student exchange program operated by Rotary International, for students from 15 to 19. Now, Rossland is the North American headquarters for another long-established student exchange program: En Famile International is designed for students as young as 9, up to age 16.
En Famille is a not-for-profit organization that has been operating since 1978. Students of the same age, but from different countries, share time together for six months with each family, for a total of one year together – learning each other’s language and culture, having adventures and developing as individuals.
Rossland student Agnes Hamill has jut moved here from the UK, and has been part of two earlier En Famille exchanges; one in France when she was 11, and one in Spain at the age of 13. She is new Rosslander Vivienne Hurley’s daughter, and Hurley is now the En Famille facilitator for the North American program.
Agnes, now 16, says, “I’ve learned so much about myself as a direct result of my foreign exchanges. You learn so much more than just a language. You don’t realise it at the time, but the whole experience makes you more receptive to change, boosts your social skills and makes you more outgoing, understanding and patient with others. As well as my own family, I now have extended families in France and Spain, and two brilliant exchange sisters whom I visit every year. I’m now fluent in three languages and want to go to University to study more of them!”
Hurley admits that for a parent, the first exchange experience is the most challenging, “but totally worth it for everyone involved!” She says, “The whole family has to be on board to make each exchange a success, but by the end of the exchange, they have each made a friend for life, gained valuable insights and learned a new language.”
Hurley said that a November meeting is currently being organised for exchanges with start dates in Feb/March 2020 and August/September 2020. If anyone is interested in finding out more about En Famille International’s exchange programme for students aged between 9-16 years old, or would just like to attend the meeting, please contact Vivienne Hurley at 250-921-6290 or email Vivienne@enfamille.com for information and registration details.
Rossland students have been particpating in En Famille exhanges for several years. .
En Famille can also be followed on Facebook and Instagram.
Parents of exchange students are expected to cover all the child’s travel and insurance expenses, and – according to the website -- to pay fees to the organization totaling approximately $4,500 Canadian. En Famille uses these fees to host “New Family Meetings” and interviews in each country, attend conferences to increase awareness, interview families, visit homes, oversee on-going exchanges, and pay its employees. Prospective exchange students and host famileis are carefuly vetted. For more information, explore the website at: