Tam High students finally back home in US

April 22, 2010 5:52:55 PM PDT
Two dozen students from Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley are finally back home from Europe, five days after they were supposed to leave Paris.

This is the 15th year of this exchange program. Students from Tam go to France and then French students come here in the fall. When they found out there were going to be delays, there was a mix of excitement and being homesick.

There were cheers mixed with a few tears as parents welcomed their children back from France. The uncertainty is over.

"I enjoyed the time I had there, but here it's overwhelming to be back. It's really nice," said student Charlie Dolton.

The 24 students had been on an annual 17-day exchange trip, staying with families in Southwest France. The last five days were spent in Paris. They were scheduled to come home last Saturday, but then flights were canceled and they had to improvise. Rooms were at a premium, but they were able to stay in their hotel for an extra five days. Contingency plans were put into place in Marin and in Paris.

"They had to keep on studies. They created study sessions. Chaperones were heroes. They took them out and around the city to show them things they couldn't have done in the first few days they were there," said teacher Brian Zailian.

"I missed everyone and was ready to come home, but everyone stuck together as a team. We really worked together to make sure everything was OK," said student Racine Cermak.

There was a camaraderie they formed and respect because they had to rely on each other. French teacher Catherine Welter lead the group and they credit her with keeping it calm.

"You know, you hear about bad kids, but they were mature, they were resilient, they were funny, they were delightful," said Welter.

Zoe Arthur was the last student to go through customs.

"They had to check my bag. I had a little tin of foie gras. They just put it through a machine and checked it," said Arthur.

The five extra days were obviously costly. The travel agency for the high school has fronted some of the money, but of course it will have to be repaid. A lot of the parents got travel insurance. Let's just hope there is not a repeat of this in the fall when the French students visit the US.


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