07/09/07 — Local family shares visit with student from France

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Local family shares visit with student from France

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on July 9, 2007 1:45 PM

A French student who spent the past month with a Goldsboro family said Friday he wasn't ready to go home.

Gregoire De Montecler, 13, said he hadn't had enough of the United States and the new friends he made during his visit.

Gregoire returned to his home in Cannes on Saturday, but said before he left that he plans to visit Goldsboro again.

And the family who opened their doors to him already are making plans to visit his family in France.

Rose and Allen Cannon, who live in the Raintree subdivision, saw a newspaper advertisement seeking host families for foreign students planning to visit the United States. Although they had never done anything of the sort, they decided to give it a go. They first considered being the host family for a Spanish student, thinking he or she could help their son, Kyle, 16, with his Spanish.

But the East Carolina University professor arranging the visits through the Terra Linqua/Terre des Langues, or World Languages, program, told them he needed someone to help with several students soon to arrive from France.

The Cannons, who also have two older boys, agreed to volunteer.

Gregoire arrived in early June.

The language barrier was a problem at the start. Gregoire had studied German, not English, in school and knew few American words and phrases. That led to more than one humorous moment during the stay. For example, whenever the Cannons referred to themselves as "we," Gregoire heard "oui," meaning yes in French.

The Cannons realized they would need some help in bridging the language gap and bought a hand-held translator that converts French to English and vice versa.

"That's the bomb right there," Kyle said, pointing to the translator.

The Cannons took Gregoire to the mountains and the beach. He felt right at home in the water, the Cannons said, since Cannes is on the Mediterranean Sea, and Gregoire's family also owns a home on the Atlantic coast of France. Gregory said life in eastern North Carolina was much like that at home, where water sports are a favorite activity.

"He's like a fish underwater," Kyle said.

Gregoire's English improved day by day. His parents gave him the chance to visit the U.S. in part so that he could get a leg up on the language. He will be taking up the study of English in school this fall. The Cannons said they had to use the translator less and less as time went by. But they still kept it handy.

Gregoire quickly became fond of "Mama" Rose's cooking. When they served up spaghetti and pizza, he was especially happy, Kyle said.

"They must eat a lot of Italian food where they live," he noted.

The Cannons said they found Gregoire to be an intelligent, well-adjusted young man.

"He's a lot of fun, really," Mrs. Cannon said. "He's well-rounded, very diverse."

"He's full of energy," Kyle said.

Mrs. Cannon said she admired Gregoire's adventurous spirit.

"To be 13 and go to another country to a family you don't know, I thought after a week he would be freaking," she said. "I kept asking him, 'Are you OK?'"

Gregoire never wavered. If he was ever homesick, he didn't show it.

And when it came time to say good-bye, he vowed to return.

And the Kyle said he plans to go to France, to meet Gregoire's folks and take in some of the French lifestyle.