I recently returned from France, where I was one of the chaperones for our 5th grade exchange trip to Blérancourt. Anyone who has chaperoned a trip with children can tell you that it's not an easy experience, but it is a rewarding one. Specifically, in such a short period of time, I was able to see our French immersion students blossom and grow into independent young adults.
For a couple of weeks, they were fully immersed in the French language and culture, but, in my opinion, that was not the primary value of the trip. Through their experiences of language and culture on this trip, they matured before my very eyes. To be autonomous (to an extent -- chaperones were there, of course!) and understand that every action has a reaction and also understand the consequences and benefits of said actions -- allowed our students to learn some very valuable lessons.
While most of our students are well-traveled and are aware of so much more than we were at their age, they demonstrated that they understood the value of the trip. I am positive that as they continue to grow, they will reflect on this experience and recognize the multitude of lessons learned and how it helped shape them.
On a personal level, I could not have been more proud of our students, how they handled themselves, and how much they learned. I know by the end of the trip, it made me realize how much I enjoyed experiencing everything with them!