'Bonjour' opens door to another world

16:00, Feb 25 2014
Francesca Edwards
RECOMMENDED: ACG Strathallan student Francesca Edwards, 17, says her exchange year in France through the Papakura Rotary Club is the best thing she has ever done. The pins on her Rotary blazer were gifts from exchange students she met on the year-long trip. 

When Francesca Edwards flew to Bordeaux last January she knew just one word of French - "bonjour".

But after a year spent in France the 17-year-old says it is a different story.

"I got there and I got thrown into it. I did a couple of French classes in France but mainly it was just listening," she says.

"Now I can understand everything people are saying and make myself understood."

Francesca was in Europe thanks to the generosity of the Papakura Rotary Club, which sends students overseas every year through the Rotary International exchange programme.

Students just pay for their flights - everything else is covered. They stay with four families for three months each. In most countries families host another child in exchange but there is no obligation to do so in New Zealand.


Bordeaux was not all sunny hills and vineyards but Francesca was not fazed.

"I didn't really go expecting anything," she says. "It was all amazing. It's so pretty and it's a very rich city. They have really good transport and lovely old buildings from the 12th century."

It is a bit hard adapting to life in New Zealand again, she says.

"New Zealand's not a let-down - it's still my home. But I definitely want to travel a lot more."

Papakura Rotary Club is now looking for students aged 14 to 15 who would like to spend 2015 attending high school overseas.

The club is holding an information night next Wednesday for parents and students to find out more about the programme.

It will be held at 7.30pm on March 5 in the Papakura Senior Citizens Hall at 8 East St.

Call Eric Jerkovich on 298 5784 for more information.

Papakura Courier