By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — Quebec City was in many ways the perfect place for Marshfield High School (MHS) French students to visit. Aside from French being the dominant language there, the Canadian city is much closer than French-speaking areas in Europe or Africa, and its history rivals that of any European destination. According to an article by Tim Richards on the website lonelyplanet.com, Quebec City is over 400 years old. That same article referred to Quebec City as the “birthplace of the French Empire in North America.”
The trip was not funded by the Marshfield School District. Rather, students contributed their own funds and held fundraisers to pay for travel expenses. Nineteen students made the trip this past spring break with French teachers SuAnn Schroeder and Kit Chase acting as chaperones.
The idea behind the trip was to immerse students in a French speaking country and to push them to use what they have learned in real-world situations.
“I definitely got a lot more confident with my French,” said junior Kaycee Irwin of her time in Quebec City.
“Me and my friend, when we were shopping, we would try to speak as much French to each other as possible,” said junior Haley Steines.
During the trip students were taken through Quebec City by a tour guide and visited museums, local government buildings, and famous local landmarks. Irwin said that the older portion of Quebec City had a decidedly European feel to it. Quebec City is the only city in North America that still has its fortification walls surrounding it, according to quebecregion.com.
Château Frontenac was also a highlight of the trip, standing as “the world’s most photographed hotel,” according to quebecregion.com.
“It’s (Château Frontenac) iconic for Quebec City,” Irwin said. Senior Dana Krokstrom compared the significance of the hotel to the Empire State Building of New York City. While Château Frontenac is an iconic manmade structure, the St. Lawrence River is a defining natural element of Quebec City.
“You always would see it (the river). It’s so big,” Krokstrom said.
Schroeder said that with an increasingly global business world, knowing another language is a major skill for students to have on their résumés.
“I think that French is going to be so important for them, for a lot of our students,” Schroeder said.
One such student is Krokstrom, who plans to continue taking French at UW-La Crosse next year and is considering teaching French for her career.
“I really felt like this was such a worthwhile thing,” Schroeder said. “I really felt like these kids really want to do something with their French, and I really want to help them.”
“There’s so many people in the world that are bilingual, trilingual, and whatever we can do to help our kids become more globally aware and ready for the global market, I think that’s ultimately what this is all about,” Schroeder said.
Irwin said holding everyday conversations with the citizens of Quebec City, for instance employees at a shop, was one of the highlights of the trip for her.
“That was good real-life experience. Instead of mock conversations we have in class, they were actual conversations,” Irwin said, later adding “everyone there is bilingual.”
Sophomore Cassie Maddox said her favorite part of the trip was visiting a portion of Quebec City where Leonardo DiCaprio filmed scenes of “Catch Me If You Can.”
All of the students interviewed said the trip was a valuable experience.
“Even though money may be hard to (raise for the trip), fundraise your butt off, and you can do it. … The history and learning and immersion, it’s so much more than the money,” Krokstrom said when asked what she would tell future students considering a foreign language trip.
“You’ll never regret it because it was so much fun,” Maddox said, adding that the trip to Quebec City was her first time leaving the United States.
Schroeder and Chase both sang the praises of the students who took the trip.
“All I know is these students were the best, honestly, that I have ever been on a trip with. They really tried to use their French,” Chase said. “They were awesome. … Honestly, I never had such nice kids.”