ROCK FALLS – Flavien DuPont, 17, from Lille, France is Rock Falls High School’s foreign exchange student for the 2018-19 school year. His parents are Aline and Nicolas DuPont, and he has a younger brother, Alexis, and a younger sister, Lucie.
His host family is Tom and Johnna Myers from Rock Falls. They have three children: Drake, Mason and Tommi, and a dog named Nala and a cat named Lola.
Why did you want to do the foreign exchange program? To discover new things like culture, people and a way of life.
Why did you choose the United States? I had to choose three places, and America was the first on my list so I was happy about that. I wanted to come here to see what the “American Dream” was about, because this is the country where everything in possible, and there is a lot of American influence over in France, in movies and music.
Did that change when you got here? When I got off plane, I just thought to myself, “I’m in the United States.” It was just amazing to know that you were going to live in a different country.
How has living in the United States been so far? It’s good. I love living here, but it’s different from my hometown, There are a million people in Lille, so a small town is a big change.
What is it like to live in a small town? It’s peaceful, compared to the city where there are always people.
What was the biggest culture shock? The food. There is a lot of fast food. It’s both good and bad, because it’s not healthy. The food at school is like fast food compared to home.
What’s your favorite food here and back home? Fried onions. I like everything fried, even if i shouldn’t. Anything my grandma made was my favorite, but if I had to choose, it would be tartiflette. It’s like cheesy potatoes.
What is the difference in American and French schools? We spend a lot less time in school here. In France, we’re in school until 5:30 p.m. and we can’t choose our subjects. It’s easier here, and the teachers also are nicer because it’s more of a hierarchy in France. We are the students and they are the teachers, and that’s it.
What do you do in your free time? I go to Chicago on the weekends to shop, see the city and hang out there with my host family.
And in Rock Falls? I try to hang out with friends I made here or watch Netflix.
If you could go anywhere in the world for free, where would you go? I don’t know because this is where I wanted to go, but I would go to New York City, Los Angeles, Hollywood, the Grand Canyon or Disney World here.
If you could change anything about your school, what would it be? I don’t think there would be much to change. I like this one better than the one in France, it’s more relaxed and less stressful. When I talk to my friends back home, they’re more stressed than I am. But If I had to choose something, it would be the cafeteria for the food. I miss my French cafeteria.
What do you think about the people here? People are definitely more friendly here than in France. We had a foreign exchange student back home and not a lot of people talked to her. But there were a lot of people who came up to me at the beginning of the year to talk and try to be friends. Even in the stores, you can talk to people more easily, because they’re more friendly and relaxed.
How has your experience with the Rotary Exchange been? I love my host family, I feel like a part of the family. They welcomed me, and I couldn’t have asked for a better fit.
What is your favorite childhood memory? Probably the afternoon spent with family at my grandparents house playing board games, enjoying good food and being as a family together.
What is it about you that you want people to know? Most Americans see us as romantics, and we love baguettes, croissants and wine, but it’s not all true.
About the program
The Rotary Foreign Exchange program is for students ages 15 to 19.
For more information or to apply, find your local Rotary club on Facebook, contact Youth Exchange Officer Dana McCoy at Dana.McCoy@cghmc.com or go to rotary.org.