Life at Downlands has certainly taken on an international flavour recently.
With trips to Le Touquet for the Year 11 GCSE French students, and Year 9 and Year 10 German linguists having recently returned from Berlin, it was the turn of the Year 8 students.
Hassocks is fortunate to have very strong links with both France and German through the Twinning Association and in May a group of Year 8 Downlands students spent one week staying in Montmirail, in the Champagne region of France, for the first “leg” of their “l’echange scolaire” or student exchange. They had a fabulous time in France and even managed to fit in a trip to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Back in Downlands, pupils were even speaking French in the canteen queue and parents have joined them in their enthusiasm.
It can, of course, be a highly daunting prospect arriving in a foreign country with what feels like very limited language skills, yet after a relatively short time everyone was realising that non-verbal sign language, lots of smiling and shrugging as well as actual French sentences were proving successful.
It was then, last week, the turn of the French students to visit Downlands. By the end of their week with us, the French students were choosing to wear our school uniform! Great friendships were begun that may well last a life time.
One of the parents involved commented: “It’s a fantastic thing that they’ve done this, it’s a magical experience, I’ve never seen him so happy”. There will be another French trip to Montmirail next year and after the success of hosting the Wald Mittelbach band in May, we are also planning a student exchange with Wald Mittelbach in Germany.
The Year 7 Students have a trip to France to look forward to as part of their Enrichment Activities this summer but it’s next stop Barcelona for our Year 9 and Year 10s linguists. With students travelling to Italy in July and Chennai in India in the autumn to visit our partner school, the Ellen Sharma School, the world really is their oyster!
Report and picture contributed by Downlands Community School.