Hartselle family hosts exchange student
The Kent family is currently hosting Mathieu Tournier, a French exchange student, for two weeks as part of a BASF Global exchange program.
Both Jacob Kent’s father Kelly Kent and Tournier’s father work for BASF. The company offers an all-expenses paid exchange program for employees’ children to gain international experience.
Kent recently finished up his two weeks in France and brought Tournier back with him to Alabama to experience Southern American culture.
During Kent’s time in Lyon, France, with Tournier’s family, Kent was able to visit Paris for five days during Bastille Day celebrations, watch fireworks at the Eiffel Tower, see the Notre Dame Cathedral and tour the Palace of Versailles.
“Bastille Day was one of my favorite parts of the trip,” Kent said. “Even though they are celebrating independence just like we do on the Fourth of July, no two independence days are alike. You could just see the patriotism running through people’s veins, and it was great to see that part of their culture.”
Kent said he purposely tried not to compare Tournier’s everyday life to his own so he wouldn’t miss out on the complete immersion experience.
“I didn’t want to compare everything in France to America, but I did notice some obvious differences,” Kent said. “I noticed that the high gas prices have an effect on their vehicle choices. I was able to walk to several places from their house, but when people drive, they mostly have small fuel-efficient cars unlike our big trucks here.”
The Kents had a number of aspects of Southern culture they wanted to be sure to share with Tournier during his visit.
“They have already taken me shooting, which was really fun,” Tournier said. “France’s gun laws are different than they are here, so this was my first time shooting a gun. I’m looking forward to having a true Southern experience like Jacob got a true French experience.”
Tournier was able to visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and enjoy a day on Smith Lake with the Kent family.
“I think food is a big part of the Southern experience, and I want to make sure he gets to try some new foods he might not otherwise get to,” Kent said. “So far we’ve eaten fried green tomatoes and gumbo, which he seemed to like both. We want to make sure his trip to Alabama is unique from his previous trip to California.”
Tournier said he chose a trip to America during his exchange experience for a few reasons.
“I loved the U.S. last year when I came here last year, and I wanted to come back,” Tournier said. “I have been learning English for seven years, so I knew coming here again would help improve my English skills. I want to see the important parts of the Southern culture, but I’m not really looking for anything special. I want to experience Jacob’s everyday life.”