CULTURAL EXCHANGE French students embrace the Jersey Shore

Asbury Park Press (Asbury Park, NJ), July 28, 2004, sec. F, page 5
By: Bonnie Delaney/Staff Writer


SHOPPING in New York City topped the list of favorite excursions for 15 French teenagers spending three weeks with families in northern Ocean County.

“Shopping is one of my favorite things to do,” said Lou Lefeuvre, 15, of Brittany in western France, as she was sunning herself during an afternoon trip to the beach at Risden’s in Point Pleasant Beach.

“I like the people. I like the weather. I like the beach and I like to shop,” said Lefeuvre.

“My favorite things to do in France are shopping, the movies and the ice rink,” she added.

Lefeuvre, the other teens, and French teacher Sylvie Petitjean, of Lille, France, are visiting the Jersey Shore through the Intercultural Friends Foundation, a nonprofit student-exchange organization based in Severna Park, Md.

Scot King, a fifth-grade teacher at the Park Avenue Elementary School, Freehold, and a Point Pleasant resident, has been coordinating the French students’ visits to the Point Pleasant area for the past eight years.

“It’s a very rewarding program for the French students and the host families,” he said.

Most mornings from 9 a.m. to noon the students are in classes held at St. Mary’s by the Sea, a church in Point Pleasant Beach.

“A French teacher teaches them English. They have a working knowledge of English but this whole experience helps them perfect it,” King said.

Steve Chace teaches the students American culture, everything from the Civil War to the civil rights movement.

“Before we went to New York City, we talked about the history of the Statue of Liberty and other sights they were to see,” Chace said.

During the two-day New York City trip, the students visited Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, Chinatown, Wall Street, Ground Zero, Rockefeller Center and Central Park. They also went shopping on Fifth Avenue.

Clement Rossignol, 17, of Fountainbleau (near Paris), said that everything seems larger in the United States.

“The streets are bigger, the towns are bigger. Everything is bigger,” he said. “And the Americans are very generous.”

Pierre Gabrielle, 17, of Lyon, in eastern France, said he’s enjoying his stay in the United States.

“I went to the theater, the mall, and the baseball stadium. We saw the BlueClaws,” said Gabrielle, who hopes to become a surgeon.

Gabrielle said he comes from a family of doctors.

“My father is a cardiologist, and my mother is an emergency room doctor. My grandparents are radiologists,” he said.

Camille Grosjacques, 16, of Savoie, which is one hour from Chamonix in the French Alps, said she came on the trip because she “likes to discover other countries.”

Marie Karpodinis, 16, of Brick, and Laure-Helene Chiesa, of Paris, giggled like sisters as they took photographs of each other on the beach.

“I look forward to this every year,” said Karpodinis, whose family has hosted a French student through the program for the past three years.

“We’ve had boys and girls stay with us. It’s great because you get to meet new people,” she said, adding that her family has visited former students in France.

For information about the program, contact King at (732) 892-2571.

Bonnie Delaney: (732) 643-4218 or



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