Meet McClain’s foreign exchange students

For the 2020-21 school year, Greenfield McClain has welcomed two foreign exchange students, Francesco Branchini and Genéve Baril, to the Tiger community. Both Baril and Branchini were able to come to Greenfield through the ASSE International Student Exchange Program, which accommodates more than 30,000 high school age students and host families annually in its programs in the participating countries, according to its website.

Baril, a senior, came from Quebec, Canada. Her family at home is her mother, father and two younger sisters, Annaelle and Maéna. She went to school at Rivėre-Des-Quinzes in Quebec and was involved in hockey and figure skating. Baril’s favorite thing at Rivėre-Des-Quinzes was her lunch break, which was an hour and a half long and included sports tournaments.

Baril wanted to become an exchange student to become bilingual and to prepare for life outside of school. With the ASSE program, Baril explains that exchange students sign a form that each potential host family in America can see, and the host family then chooses the student. Baril’s host family in Greenfield is Rachel and Charley Roman.

At McClain, Baril is involved in soccer and cross country. In early September, she beat the school record in cross country, then beat her own record a week later with a time of 19:46.

Besides a longer lunch break, Baril’s school departure time here at McClain is also different. At Rivére-Des-Quinzes, she would leave school around 4 p.m. and be home at 4:45 p.m. She said she likes getting out of school earlier because, “We have more time for doing sports and other activities.”

Baril says her favorite things about McClain are the school’s perfect size and the people in general. She is also interested in the history of the school. Her least favorite thing is study hall — it is boring, she says.

Branchini is also an exchange student through the ASSE program, and he is very excited to be part of the Tiger community.

Branchini is from Casatico, a small village near Milan, Italy, and his old school is Enrico Fermi. He says he’s very interested in other cultures, which is why he was so excited to come to America through the ASSE program. Branchini admitted that it was very difficult to leave his old life behind, such as his friends and family, his old school, his old traditions, sites and tastes.

However, he has adjusted well, especially into being bilingual. Branchini is doing very well in his classes at McClain, and he is also a valuable addition to the Tiger soccer team. He’s contributed several goals in recent games.

Branchini speaks highly of his host family, the Lesters. He likes some of the differences between McClain and his school in Italy. For instance, he likes how MHS has school lunches because in Italy, he only has his once a week in the afternoon. The other days, he leaves school midafternoon. Also, the teachers in his home country have no relationships with their students — they are strictly there to teach.

The island of Capri is Branchini’s favorite place in the world. He loves pizza in Italy and enjoys Mexican food here in the U.S. He loves the environment here and the great people of Greenfield, and is proud to be a new member of the Tiger community.

Story submitted byMcClain journalism students Mitzy Ball and Gage Ebright.

McClain exchange students Geneve Baril (left) and Francesco Branchini are pictured.

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