Gong Shu, Beijing 161 Senior High School
In January 2007, I had a chance to join in a cultural exchange group of teachers and students organized by China Soong Ching Ling Foundation. In the trip, we visited France, Germany, Austria and other European countries. This trip was the most beautiful journey I have ever had. I went to places that I had dreamed to visit for a long time, from the classical and modern Paris to a very traditional small city of St. Brieuc France, from Luxembourg and Germany to the beautiful and natural scenes of Austria.
What impressed me most on the trip was the four-day home-stay program in St. Brieuc, France i.e. living with a local family. I enjoyed every little thing during my home-stay. There were four members in the family. They were parents, brother and sister. The brother was one month older than I was, named Bras; the younger sister was about ten. The family lived a very happy life and was very hospitable to me. To my surprise, they all liked Chinese culture and raised many questions to me about China at our first meeting and then we had a lot of discussions during my home-stay in their house. And all these made me feel much relaxed, and my worries and uneasiness I firstly felt was completely disappeared.
On the second day, we went to English and Spanish lessons at Bras's senior high school. Students there usually study three to four foreign languages. Speaking and listening are strongly emphasized in teaching while grammar is only taught by text book and is not considered important. Most of the Chinese visiting students had a good command of English languages at their age; therefore there was no problem for them to communicate with French students. This exchange program helped me better understand that I should not only work hard on the lessons subject to the school requirement, but also do a good job to improve my English, do more things that I am interested most and try my best to become an outstanding student in an overall aspects. I strongly believe that nothing is difficult if I put my mind on it; therefore I shall cheer up for myself and I am sure I will realize my goal!
My French family members were all optimistic and their laughter was loud. I remember on the third evening of my home-stay, we were having dinner while talking about Claude, the Chinese language teacher in Bras's senior high school. I told Bras that Claude has a good command of China's history and culture but he has a strong French accent when he speaks Chinese that even we Chinese students couldn't understand him. Fras surprisingly looked at me with his eyes largely open and his surprising look on his face made me laugh again and again that I couldn't stop. And the whole family laughed with me for a long time. Afterwards, I thought it was just because of their laughter, that I was brought much closer to Bras and his family. They regarded me as one of their family members and even gave a French name: Chowchow Bras.
By the end of our trip, I was reluctant to say good-bye to such beautiful place and wonderful people, but I want to say loudly that I love France, I love St. Brieuc, but I loved Bras and his family most! I think if I want to realize my dream, I must start to work hard now. Life is like a journey and I must spend no efforts with clear mind and keep going and going till I realize my goal. I will be a person to enjoy wonderful life with optimism and smiles. I must be grateful to my parents, to my school, to China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, and to all who have taken great care of me.
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