Rotary exchange student Guillaume Bale was among the students participating in the Lake City Secondary School graduation ceremonies Saturday.
While he isn’t really graduating here, participating in grad was all part of the fun of being an international Rotary exchange student.
“I am just having fun,” Guillaume says. “I wanted to be a Rotary exchange student to experience a different culture and become fluent in English.”
Raised in Luzarches, a small town just outside the city of lights, Paris, France — Guillaume has had lots of opportunity to explore B.C. as an exchange student.
His B.C. group of international Rotary exchange students started their adventure by meeting each other in Vancouver last August.
Part of their orientation before being sent off to their respective host communities was making a trek together into Tweedsmuir Park.
“For starting the year it was just perfect,” says Guillaume, who has stayed with two local families during his visit.
While his studies don’t count for formal marks, Guillaume has enjoyed studying physics, music composition, culinary arts and physical education during his stay.
He has also been a peer tutor for French 10 students and helped out with the work to create the 2014 Dry Grad party.
He participated in the Polar Bear Swim this winter, and, being a swimmer at home, continued his swim practices with the Blue Fins Swim Club.
He says classes in France are different from those in B.C. in that students take the same subjects every year in high school, with advancing levels of study.
In grades 11 and 12 they select to stream their studies into either science, literature or economics.
He has chosen science and focuses his studies on math, physics, chemistry, biology and economics.
While he sees many students here working part-time jobs, he says that isn’t possible for students in France as jobs are very difficult for students to find.
Guillaume says the hardest thing for him to to adjust to in Canada has been the change in dinner time. In France they have a snack between 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. but don’t eat dinner until about 8:30 p.m.
“It was hard to adjust to having dinner around 5:30 p.m. because I wasn’t hungry,” Guillaume says.
He has also had the opportunity to see lots of B.C. with his home-stay families and during reunions with the other international Rotary exchange students now visiting B.C.
The group has had reunions in each of their home base communities.
They visited Gavin Lake near Williams Lake in September, stayed in Prince George for Christmas, went to Whistler for skiing in January, and spent time in Squamish in May.
He has also visited Burns Lake, Smithers, Victoria, Vancouver, and the Sunshine Coast with his host families and had all sorts of fun with them.
He has skied in the Alps in Europe and now adds Smithers, Whistler and Mt. Timothy to his list of ski destinations experienced.
He has also enjoyed tubing behind a boat, tubing down a snowy mountain, and cross country skiing.
His father is a Rotarian in France and his sister was a Rotary exchange student in Mexico two years ago.
His mother is a nurse and his father runs a small wood furniture company.
Before heading home in July Guillaume plans to take a tour around B.C. and Alberta.