Parlez Vous Francais ?

Stoppani “Stops” For a Year at WG


At the beginning of the year, West Geauga High School welcomed an exchange student from France. His name is Jean de Stoppani. He is scheduled as a senior, but he already graduated from his high school in France. He came here to do a “gap year” to improve his English because, as he put it, “English is very important.” Another purpose of his exchange is to clarify what he wants to do in the future. Previously, outside of school, Jean said, “I try to workout on a treadmill at home every day, [and] do volunteer [work] as well, helping people to distribute food to the poor. Before I came to the states, I used to have bad habit…like playing video games too much. Since I have been living here, I stopped this bad habit and, instead, [have] a more powerful habit: reading mostly about spirituality and personal development.”

When Jean came to America his first impression was, “…that everything here is huge: the cars, the freeways and the houses.” He arrived in September, missing the first 2 weeks of school. He noted, “The students were nice with me. I waited a long time before making friends, but now I have some. I am hosting with a family in Chesterland, but they never had any kids who attended West Geauga. I am staying for the school year and will return back home in June.”

Once he returns, Jean is planning to attend college in France. In France high school is only 3 years. School starts at 8 a.m. and finishes at 5 p.m. with a lunch break between 12 noon and 2 p.m. In France students need to choose between 3 different majors: scientific, literature or economic. He said the schedule in France changes daily, but it also stays the same every week. In France they do not use a credit system. Students there need 50% in every subject and then to pass the final exam, Le Baccalaureate. Depending on the grade on the Baccalaureate, they can postulate to either a college or university. He wants to go to a school to become a programmer.

Jean has been studying English since middle school, but admits he, “… wasn’t very good.” He loves to travel and has gone to a lot of different countries in Europe. After his graduation he made the decision to go, mostly to improve his English. He was tempted to go to Australia or South Africa, but the schools started too early. He had the choice between Canada and the USA so, “I took the ‘warmer’ place. I could not choose the state where I would be, but, after a host family chose my profile, I traveled with a company called WEP Student Exchange Program.”

He said he made the decision to come here without really “thinking” but wanted to be challenged. “I want to confront my fears and make [myself] aware that I’m  not my mind; I am greater than my ego [that] wants to stay in this comfort zone [and] is scared of the unknown.”  Sadly, he has no favorite American food, but one of his major goals of traveling was to focus on the English (and not really the grades). He also wanted to grow, becoming stronger mentally, removing completely every fear that exists in his mind. “I always crave to become better than yesterday and to have a lot of knowledge.”

When asked about West Geauga he said, “The teachers and staff are very nice. They have been very welcoming.  I am excited about going to Florida on a trip in May with my host family.  It was pretty difficult to leave my family and my friends, but I don’t regret my choice. I thank myself for making this decision to come to the USA.”

One of Jean’s favorite quotes is from Dale Carnegie: “If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” Laissez les bon temps rouller, Jean !