Chelsea Boison and Alise Duplessis. Photo Gerry Leibel

Chelsea Boison and Alise Duplessis. Photo Gerry Leibel

Joyeux anniversaire, Chelsea!

She’ll celebrate her birthday in Vesoul, a small town in eastern France

Kitimat student Chelsea Boison will be celebrating her 16th birthday in a very special way next April.

She’ll be in Vesoul, a small town of approximately 17,000 people in eastern France near the German border.

And she’ll be close to wrapping up a three-month stint of learning French and getting acquainted with the country’s culture and citizens.

Boison said she’s long been fascinated by France, with the opportunity to spend time in the country arising when a representative from a non-profit organization promoting student exchanges spoke to her high school class.

“It was something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Boison of living in another country. “I’ve been fascinated with a lot of countries.”

Boison took home the information provided and quickly gained the backing of her father.

“He’s been very supportive – he’s helping me with the money [for the trip]. He wants me to have a great experience.”

Boison, who has taken French through school, is looking forward to the experience.

“I can understand some things but my spoken French isn’t really that good,” said Boison.

The trip is being organized through non-profit OSEF (Organisme de Séjours Educatifs Francophones), a society formed in Belgium in 1994 to promote linguistic and cultural exchanges between France, Belgium and Spain and all Canadian provinces.

The cost is approximately $4,200 with the majority of that taken up by travel costs and insurance.

Boison is raising money through her job as a newspaper carrier for the Northern Sentinel and through lawn-mowing jobs organized by her father.

Boison won’t be alone when she travels to France early next year.

Because this is an exchange, 16-year-old Alise Duplessis from Vesoul is nearing the mid-mark of her own language and culture experience by staying with the Boisons.

“I love Canada. It’s a beautiful place, very different than France,” said Duplessis of her stay so far.

Although Duplessis has taken English in school, she’s hoping her stay in Kitimat will increase her conversational English ability.

Aside from instruction in school, Duplessis watched TV shows and movies with English subtitles.

“If I want to get a good job, I will really need to learn English,” said Duplessis.

So far, Duplessis has been impressed with the mountain scenery of northwestern B.C.

“We don’t have this in France where I’m from,” she adds of the geography of the region.

Duplessis has also been struck by the friendliness and informality of the people in Kitimat.

Her favourite food so far has been popcorn, saying the kind of popcorn they have in France is quite different. In turn, Duplessis has been introducing the Boisons to her own favourite foods – sour cream mixed with sugar.

When it comes to recreation, she’s impressed the Boison family by learning how to throw knives in their backyard.

Duplessis has also been attending school with Boison, saying the school system here is quite different compared to France’s.

“Here you start school at 8:45 a.m. and finish at 3 p.m. In France, you start at 8 a.m. and finish at 6 p.m. Here it’s like a summer camp,” she said.

OSEF B.C. volunteer coordinator Patricia Rhodes said the organization offers one-month summer exchanges as well as the three-month ones during the school year.

Canadian families play host during the fall months and Canadian students then travel to Europe in Februrary for their three months.

“When they return, I’m always impressed by the French they’ve learned,” said Rhodes, of Canadian students coming back home.

Improving conversational French is one of the main goals of OSEF, she said.

“It just opens the doors to another language. Once you’ve learned a second one, then a third comes that much easier,” Rhodes noted.

Click to email the newsroom

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
Moose hit on Hwy 37 S

The collision happened Saturday (Nov. 21) and three people were taken to hospital

All I want for Christmas is…food!

The Kitimat Northern Sentinel wants to publish your holiday recipes

Cases have gone up in Northern Health in the past week, as they have all over B.C. (K-J Millar/Black Press Media)
Northern Health reports new highest number of COVID-19 cases in one day

Nineteen cases were reported to Public Health last Tuesday (Nov. 17)

(Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared Thursday.
COVID-19 outbreak at LNG Canada Project site

14 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 at this time

FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Many retailers and businesses had voiced their frustration with a lack of mask mandate before

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

More than 70 anglers participated in the bar-fishing demonstration fishery on Sept. 9, 2020 on the Fraser River near Chilliwack. DFO officers ticketed six people and seized four rods. A court date is set for Dec. 1, 2020. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Anglers ticketed in Fraser River demonstration fishery heading to court

Sportfishing groups started a GoFundMe with almost $20K so far for legal defence of six anglers

Care home staff are diligent about wearing personal protective equipment when they are in contact with residents, but less so when they interact with other staff members, B.C. Seniors Advocate says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
More COVID-19 testing needed for senior home staff, B.C.’s advocate says

Employees mingling spotted as virus conductor in many workplaces

Most Read