Written by Heidi Smith, World Explorers
A young, Colombian girl made a big impact in a small town in France earlier this year.
Camilla Retavizca, joined CHI’s World Explorers program in Lambersart, France this past March. The Soquet family opened their doors to Camila for three months as part of a language exchange program. In exchange for room and board, Camila gave them 15 hours of conversation a week.
“We decided to enroll in the program after a three-month trip to South America with the kids,” explained Erwan, the host father. “The idea was to bring a little bit of something international into the house and to open the children up to this other culture.”
Prior to going to France, Camila had been on an 18-month internship program in the US through CHI. She has a very good command of the English language, in addition to her native Spanish. Her goal was to add French to her list of languages. The French family was keen on practicing both English and Spanish with Camila. It was a win-win for everyone involved.
“In the morning, we have breakfast together, and then everyone leaves for school, and work. We meet again in the evening, and often, this is when there is time to have our conversation exchange with Camilla,” said Sarah, the host mother. “There is an incredible wealth to discover in the culture of another.”
Camilla can only agree. For her, her arrival in France has been synonymous with amazement and positive surprises.
“The cliché of the French is that they are very serious,” she said. “But when I arrived, I met very warm people.”
The immersion program allowed Camila to become a true member of the Soquet family. Camila feels that she has made a life-long friendship with her hosts. She has also learned a lot about herself through the experience. She would love to join another World Explorers program in another country in the future.
“There are so many things you do not know when you are not traveling,” Camila said. “The internet cannot show us everything. We have to travel by ourselves to see what is true and what is not.”