Coming to America: French exchange student fulfills ‘dream’ to visit US

By Yoyo Michaels Staff Writer

Foreign exchange students studying at El Camino has been a long-standing tradition, and the newest addition to the EC community is Camille Pesin (‘22), arriving from France. 

Compared to schools back in France, EC offers many events that Pesin has yet to experience. 

“I’m so excited for all the football games, homecoming, prom, rallies,” Pesin exclaimed.

Pesin’s first American football game was the EC vs Cordova game, which was also EC’s first home game of the year. 

In France, students are not offered school sports. Pesin says schools in her area are more academically oriented and had eight or nine periods a day with no elective classes. She attended school from 8:00 in the morning to around 5:30-6:00 in the late afternoon. 

Pesin arrived on Aug. 8 this year and will leave the U.S. on July 26 after the EC school year ends.

Living in America has been Pesin’s dream since she was younger. She expresses that if she could bring one thing from America back home, it would be sports teams at school. 

One of Camille’s favorite parts of school in America is being able to play sports at school. She took advantage of this opportunity by joining EC’s water polo team. Photo by Yoyo Michaels

“That’s a big thing here and I love it,” she explained. 

Counselor Bo Ahlgren works closely with the exchange programs and incoming foreign exchange students.

“Typically, foreign exchange students do not earn graduation credit even though they attend classes,” Ahlgren states. 

Any work done while in America doesn’t count when they go back home. Students simply come to America to participate in these exchange programs.

EC doesn’t have it’s own exchange program, but works with other programs to accept students into the school. 

French Teachers David Manigart and Joyce Bernhoft previously organized a student exchange program between EC and France. Last time Manigart tried to start the program, it struggled with issues around the costs. The program originally started in 2008, in the middle of the Great Recession where many people had complications with money.

“[EC] had families interested, but when it came to the first payment, nobody was paying, so we had to cancel,” Manigart said. 

If given the chance, he said he would definitely start the program again.

According to Manigart, exchange programs change students’ outlook on many things and they greatly benefit the EC community. He believes these opportunities may help solve what he sees as one of the bigger problems in today’s society: ignorance. He said visiting different places and experiencing different cultures may be one of the ways to help.

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