In May of 2018, 26 French immersion students went on a trip across the country of France, immersing them into culture, language and history they’ve been studying for most of their lives.

This trip has been going on for over 20 years, a tradition at Riverside. The head teacher who led the trip, Mr. Kevin Tao, attended this trip when he went to Riverside. He, alongside Mrs. Helaine Lo, continues this tradition for their teacher that started bringing students to France many years ago at our school. Tao believes that this trip is very important for the school to do each year. “I think it is a good opportunity for students to experience something completely unique. Even though a lot of families will take their kids to Paris one day, being able to do everything we do is something that would be hard to replicate with your family,” said Tao.

The students also learned important travel skills and how to be independent, since a lot of the time the students were left to explore the country with just a small group of friends.


The group of students visited more than 10 towns and villages, all diverse in their ambiance and development. Highlights of the trip from the students include going to the top of the Eiffel Tower and exploring the palace of Versailles. Although, sight-seeing wasn’t the main portion of their trip. Almost every day, the students were brought face to face with places where important historic events happened. Visiting places such as Oradour-sur-Glane, an innocent village that was attacked by the Nazis in WWII. The small town is now a museum as it was left as is after the attack for tourists to see the impact of WWII. The group also visited three war cemeteries from WWII, a German, a Canadian and an American. Seeing a Normandy beach was also on their agenda. The students have been learning these events from textbooks, but because of this trip, they got to see it with their own eyes.

Ryann McCready, a grade 11 student at Riverside attended the 2018 France trip. She won the Student of the trip award, meaning that the teachers felt like she fully understood the importance of the trip and was the perfect example of an outstanding French Immersion student. McCready felt as if the two-week trip changed her life for the better and opened her eyes to the world around her. “I feel like the trip brought me closer to my friends, but mostly just created a sort of connection with the rest of the world. Living so far away can create a distance between people, making what happens across the world sort of irrelevant to us since it doesn’t really affect us. Going to France and learning about the people and experiencing the culture created that connection to bring us closer to each other. And I feel like doing it with your friends makes the experience that much better,” said McCready.

The trip is being held next year as well and many students have already expressed interest, due to the success of the 2018 voyage.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Tao