Ségolène Farges, of Rouen, France, with her host father Scott Fingler and host brother Jack. Ségolène has been one of two Rotary Youth Exchange students living in Summerside for the past 10 months.
SUMMERSIDE – As they walk toward their car Jack Fingler looks over at Ségolène Farges and gives her a little grin before bolting towards the front passenger seat.
The 16-year-old lets out a surprised yelp of “no!” before dashing headlong after him.
It’s a tight race, but Jack claims victory.
Having reached the shotgun seat first, he plops down with a self-satisfied, but good-natured, smirk aimed at the competition begrudgingly climbing into the back seat.
It’s a very brother and sister moment.
And yet these two were born on separate continents. A quick Google search puts their hometowns roughly 4,700 kilometers apart.
But despite that difference, and countless others, they have become like family.
Leaving is going to be hard, said Ségolène.
“It’s kind of weird. It’s like I’m kind of excited (to go home) but I really like my life here and I really want to leave,” she said.
Ségolène is one three Rotary Youth Exchange students who have been living on P.E.I this past school year. Two have been in Summerside: Ségolène and Eleonora Semprini of Italy.
Her time her Summerside is quickly coming to an end, she leaves June 22 for a program organized cross-Canada trip before finally departing for her home and family (the biological one) in Normandy, France.
She’s been on P.E.I. for 10 months, at first living with Jim and Margie Donovan, of Summerside, before leaving to stay with the Finglers; all the while attending Grade 10 at Three Oaks Senior High.
Ségolèneis the first exchange student Scott and Tracy Fingler have hosted in their home.
Their son, Jack, has been excepted for an exchange to Belgium next school year, so they thought it was only right to try it out for themselves.
They’re really glad that they did, said Scott.
“It’s been great. There’s a neat evolution to it,” he said.
“When she first came in to the house you’re kind of testing the waters, feeling each other out so to speak. But now she’s just part of the family. Now I tease her just as much as I tease my children. So it’s been a great experience.”
The feeling is likewise, said Ségolène, and it’s been a time she’ll never forget.
During Tuesday morning’s meeting of the Rotary Club of Summerside, Ségolène told the organization a bit more about herself and her home country.
Afterwards, she chatted about her experience on the Island and all the self-discovery she did while here.
She went out of her way to do things here she would never have dreamed of at home.
Like playing rugby.
Never in a million years would she have tried out for a rugby team back in France;
but she did here – and loved it.
The experience has also been a big confidence booster for her.
She arrived knowing very little English, but is now basically fluent.
She used to be so self-conscious of her accent and the fact that it made her seem out of place. But she’s learned not to care anymore, she’s so proud of her own progress with English that she wears it like a badge of honour.
“I think I grew up a lot – like a lot. I learned a lot about myself,” she said.
Before she leaves P.E.I. she intends to go skeet shooting and fishing.
She’s sad to go, she added, but will be back to visit P.E.I.
It’s not a matter of if, she said, only when.