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Higley French students form skills, friendships through pen pal program

Belgium pen pals Classroom Photos   
Higley French students form skills, friendships through pen pal program
Higley High School French teacher Murielle Inman is fostering an ongoing pen pal program for her students to interact with high school students in Belgium.
With over 20 students actively participating, the email exchanges soon led to Inman’s successful in-person visit to the Belgian school, Athénée Royal de Chênée, on Jan. 12.
Inman, who grew up in Belgium and graduated from Athénée Royal de Chênée, first set up the exchange by contacting English teachers from the school in August. While visiting her family in the country, she set up a visit to the Belgian high school to form in-person connections and bring presents to her students’ pen pals.
Her students helped provide everything from American candies to school T-shirts for three classes of Belgian students, who brought gifts for Inman to bring back to Higley High.
“I spent over two hours telling them about how our school functions, about our sports, activities and many other aspects of the American life that are so foreign to them,” Inman said of her visit. “My Belgian colleagues and I were very happy to see the great motivation from the Belgian students” 
Inman found success in matching her Higley French students with her colleagues’ students through an information sheet. Since the program’s start, students have been quick to email their Belgian pen pals, learning to communicate in French while Belgian students respond in English.
"The best part of this exchange is the cultural enrichment that comes with it,” said Juliana Becerra, a sophomore in Inman’s AP French class. “The program encourages us to communicate in a foreign language, practice our writing and grammar skills, all while engaging in real world conversations and establishing awesome connections with a diverse group of people."
Inman also created a monitored Padlet account for students to post pictures of school events or themselves, and now has a third Belgian English teacher involved.