Vancouver kids embark on amazing itinerary with Quebec twins

Planes, boats, bikes, buses - and zip-lines

Vancouver kids embark on amazing itinerary with Quebec twins

When 42 Grade 7 students from Quebec City arrive in Vancouver, Thursday (April 15), they will kick-off an exchange - a year in the making - that will expose them to the extraordinary diversity of contemporary Canada.

After the plane journey, the students from Polyvalente Rochebelle will be greeted by their twins at a brief reception at L'École Bilingue elementary school, 14th and Alder, before heading to the homes of their host families where they will be billeted for the next week.

They'll have little time for texting and R&R though, as Day 2 begins with a scavenger hunt on Granville Island, before dragon boat races in False Creek and a potluck welcome dinner in the school gym.

The weekend is free-form, as the families will show their Quebec guests around the city. As anybody who has been on a Quebec exchange knows, however, these domestic moments are often adventures in themselves, as hosts and guests get to know one another - in both official languages.

The formal itinerary begins again on Tuesday and runs until Saturday morning, when les Qu�b�cois will set off solo on a tour of Victoria.

Before boarding the ferry at Tsawassen, however, they will have walked Chinatown, biked Stanley Park, bussed to Whistler and sailed on a zip-line or tread the length of a walkway high in the branches of a temperate rainforest. Back in Vancouver, they will also have explored the Museum of Anthropology, picnicked at Spanish Banks and enjoyed a farewell supper at the Museum of Vancouver.

"We will show our Quebec guests the cultural and linguistic diversity as well as the beauty of our city," said Burt Frenzell, Principal of L'École Bilingue. "We know that when our students travel to Quebec City in May, they will receive the same great treatment, thus we will not allow ourselves to be outdone!"

The two groups have been twinned under a project partly funded by the SEVEC Youth Exchanges Canada program and the Canada Sports Friendship Exchange Programs. The programs cater to youth groups between the ages of 12-17 from various provinces and territories across Canada. Last year, more than 5,000 young Canadians travelled in Canada thanks to the SEVEC program, which is partially funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage.

The Vancouver students and parents raised the remainder of required funds for the 12-day Quebec-part of the exchange with a year-long fund-raising campaign, including regular sushi lunches and school-wide events: a spell-a-thon, barbecue and Halloween bash. Thus the costs have been reduced to just $450 per family.

"I am very excited to meet my twin and I'm sure that she's going to have a great time in Vancouver!" said Alexandra Boothroyd, a Grade 7 student at L'École Bilingue. "We've been Skype-ing and emailing each other for months!"


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